More IDF Strikes in Operation Summer Rains

Israel Defense Forces are pounding Gaza with artillery and air strikes in order to pressure the population to force Hamas terrorists to give up their hostage, 19-year-old IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 11:33

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert froze Phase III of Operation Summer Rains on Thursday night at the request of Egyptian officials who were meeting with Hamas terrorists in an effort to persuade them to release their Israeli captive.

He did not, however, hold back IDF troops from continuing the operation that was already in play. More than 500 artillery shells have been fired by the IDF in Gaza in the past 24 hours.

An Israel Air Force helicopter fired at an Islamic Jihad terrorist as he attempted to launch a Kassam rocket at Israeli forces. 25-year-old Abdel Rael later succumbed to his wounds, the first to die since the start of the IDF operation.

IAF jets scored direct hits on close to a dozen targets in the wee hours before dawn on Friday. In Gaza City alone, the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry was struck, as was a Fatah office and a Hamas terrorist training camp. PA Interior Minister Said Siyam’s office was targeted because it was “a meeting place to plan and direct terror activity,” said IDF sources.

A missile also hit a Kassam rocket factory operated by the Fatah terrorist group, the Al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Also on Friday, IDF troops operating in southern Gaza fired at a terror cell aiming at an army position with an anti-tank rocket launcher. The terrorists managed to escape, but it is believed that two of the attackers were wounded.

The strikes will continue, said IDF spokesman, Cpt. Jacob Dallal, until the terrorists free Shalit and end their Kassam rocket attacks against Israel. Dallal said the operation is being carried out “in a calibrated, studied fashion.”

Dallal reiterated that the goal of Operation Summer Rains is simple: “to gain the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit.” Putting an end to the non-stop barrage of Kassam rocket attacks against Sderot and other western Negev communities is a second goal of the operation as well.

“We hope that this will work and that [Shalit] will be freed as soon as possible,” said Dallal.