IDF Widens Attacks to Samaria; 7 Terrorists Killed

Israel widened its retaliation against escalating terror attacks Friday afternoon and killed three Hamas terrorists in Samaria. The IDF staged another air raid in Gaza, killing four terrorists.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 4:34 PM

IDF helicopters fired six missiles, and soldiers in the chopper aimed automatic rifles at the terrorists in their car in Samaria near the city of Ariel, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of Tel Aviv. Terrorists favor hiding out in the area because its mountainous terrain provides them with natural hideouts.

A missile strike in central Gaza a few minutes later killed four Hamas terrorists who were on their way to launch mortar shells against Israel. The IDF began the air raids shortly after midnight Friday and aimed missiles at two Hamas buildings. One of them had been used for storing arms and the other served as offices for the terrorist organization, which has set itself up as a rival authority to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza.

Troops and tanks were on their way to Gaza late Friday afternoon, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said that Israel must stop the terrorist attacks and "then worry about disengagement."

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is scheduled to meet Friday night with senior military commanders to discuss a strategy against the mounting terror against Israel, less than a month before the government plans to begin to force Jews out of their homes in Gaza and handover the area to the PA.

Rocket and mortar shell attacks Thursday night killed one woman and continued throughout the day Friday, causing extensive damage. An 18-year-old woman from Ne've Dekalim in Gush Katif sustained shrapnel injuries to her hand and a 4-year-old girl was injured by shrapnel in her abdomen. They were rushed to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Residents of the Negev town of Sderot, who have been a primary target of the attacks, staged a brief protest at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's nearby Sycamore Ranch before defense officials forced them to leave the area.

Lt-Gen. Halutz said that Hamas has "broken the rules of the game [during the] 'calm,'" but the popular military correspondent for Israel Radio, Carmel Menashe, commented that the only change in the recent attacks is that someone was killed.

Terrorists, including those from the PA's Fatah party military arm, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, recently have attacked Jewish communities in the western Negev and Gaza with almost 100 shells and rockets every week.