Gaza Offensive Continues; Arabs Fire From Within Mosque

PM Sharon said today that the anti-Kassam offensive in Gaza will continue for as long as necessary, and could even be expanded. He also said that the disengagement will not take place "under fire."

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, | updated: 12:18

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today that the anti-Kassam offensive in northern Gaza will continue for as long as necessary, and will even be expanded, "for as long as Israeli citizens are harmed."

Senior IDF officers told the Knesset committee that the anti-Kassam offensive, known as "Days of Penitence," has expanded to another PA-controlled town in northern Gaza, Beit Lahiya. Givati Brigade troops, tanks, helicopters and armed bulldozers are taking part in the offensive. As of now, nine Kassam-launching terror cells have been liquidated in the two-week-old offensive.

Fire was directed at the forces in Beit Lahiya last night from within a mosque. The soldiers did not return fire, in order not to offend Moslem sensitivities. They did, however, surround the building, and when the terrorists exited, the soldiers shot and hit them.

In the framework of a special humanitarian operation coordinated by the IDF and UNRWA, 200 containers filled with basic food supplies such as flour, rice, sugar and milk powder for children entered the Gaza Strip via the Sufa Crossing yesterday and this week.

Sharon also told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today that the disengagement plan will not be carried out if the terrorism front has not quieted down. Likud MK Ehud Yatom, a staunch opponent of the withdrawal plan, said that he understands from this that as long as the terrorism continues, the disengagement will simply not be carried out. Arutz-7's Knesset correspondent Haggai Seri-Levy reports that Sharon is "truly very concerned about the possibility that the terrorists will fire at the retreating forces and the uprooted residents - because this could ignite intense Arab violence throughout Judea and Samaria."

In other Gaza news, Yasser Arafat's cousin Musa Arafat, known as one of the most corrupt amidst many corrupt PA officials, narrowly escaped death last night in an assassination attempt. A car bomb exploded near his convoy in Gaza City, in what was at least the second attempt on his life. Last year, he accused his Arab enemies, who include Muhammed Dahlan, of firing a rocket at his office. Battles between opposing Arab forces in Gaza have broken out frequently during the past two years.