Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Israel Warns of 'Extreme' Action

Israeli troops at Gaza border

June 28, 2006

Israel's prime minister has warned of "extreme action" to free a soldier captured by Palestinian militants.

Photo: Tanks enter Gaza

Witnesses reported an air strike on a militant training camp in Gaza, after planes bombed a power station and three bridges overnight.

Tanks also moved into the southern Gaza Strip, in the first big incursion since the Israeli withdrawal last year.

There are no reports of clashes but the incursion brought condemnation from the main Palestinian factions.

In developments elsewhere:

* Around 30 Israeli army jeeps have surrounded a building near the West Bank town of Ramallah

* Militants in the West Bank showed what they said was a photocopy of the ID card of the missing 18-year-old Jewish settler Eliahu Asher, whom they say they have abducted and will kill if Israel continues its operation.

* Israel's Public Security Minister, Avi Dichter, told Israeli radio that Hamas leaders based in Syria could be attacked

We have no intention of staying [in Gaza]. We have a central goal and that is to bring Gilad home — Israeli PM Ehud Olmert

Photo: Undated family picture of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, 19 years old. He lost an uncle in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and is the first Israeli soldier kidnapped by Palestinians since 1994.

Cpl Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner in a raid claimed by three different organisations - including the armed wing of governing party Hamas - on an Israeli guard post near Gaza on Sunday.

"We won't hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family," Mr Olmert said, adding that Israel only wanted to rescue its soldier and did not wish to stay on in Gaza.


Witnesses reported that at least one missile was fired into what they said was a Hamas training camp in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Wednesday afternoon.

Israel said it had launched an air strike on open fields. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Image: Gaza Strip

Palestinian security sources said an explosion at a house in Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Wednesday afternoon appeared to be an accident, not part of the Israeli action.

Overnight, covered by artillery and helicopter gunship fire, Israeli tanks moved in from the Kerem Shalom crossing near southern Gaza and took control of the disused airport.

Planes also bombed three bridges linking the north and south of the strip, and Gaza's main electricity transformer, plunging much of the strip into darkness.

Army officials said the operation would remain "limited and surgical".


While the Israelis have reported no major resistance, Palestinian militants have been erecting barricades and preparing hideouts and ambush positions.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the Israeli incursion as "collective punishment" and said the problem could only be solved through negotiation.

Cpl Shalit was captured when Palestinian militants tunnelled under the Gaza border and attacked an Israeli army position at Kerem Shalom, killing two soldiers.

Israel has refused militant demands for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails to be freed in exchange for information about the soldier.

Hamas political leaders have denied they know of Cpl Shalit's whereabouts and have urged his captors not to mistreat him.

Israel last year pulled soldiers and thousands of settlers out of Gaza, which it had first occupied after the 1967 war.

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