Terrorists present wave of attacks as "gift for Jewish New Year"

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in separate terror attacks in the Gaza Strip today. An IDF officer was killed and another soldier wounded, when Palestinians opened fire on troops near the settlement of Nissanit. A soldier was killed and three others were wounded when a bomb detonated under an Israeli tank near the Kissufim Crossing. Security forces intercepted a car filled with 600kg of explosives and fuel near Pardes Hanna.

According to media reports, the soldiers were guarding construction of a security fence between Nissanit and Dugit when at least two Palestinian gunmen opened fire from a school in Beit Lahiya. During an exchange of gunfire, one of the terrorists was shot dead. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

An Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded when an explosive device detonated under an Israeli Merkava tank near the Kissufim Crossing this morning. The tank crew was searching for two terrorists when they detonated the bomb that damaged the tank.

Security forces launched a manhunt for Palestinians who drove a booby-trapped car discovered near Kfar Glickson, just east of Pardes Hanna. Israeli Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said that a Border Police unit had spied an Isuzu van and a Volkswagen Golf car fleeing an army checkpoint. The unit gave chase and found the abandoned vehicles a short distance away.

"The bomb units were called in and they found 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) of explosives - a very large bomb in one of the cars that was detonated. A search is being carried out for the men," Kleiman said.

Northern region police commander Yaakov Borovsky said that the car was filled with explosives hidden in several gas canisters, connected to a battery and a cellular telephone-operated detonation mechanism. A container of metal shrapnel and bolts were also found. Borovsky described the car as one of the biggest bombs the police had ever discovered.

"This was one of the biggest (successes in) foiling an attack that we know of," Borovsky said. "We did not have any specific warnings, but our working assumption is that the eve of a Jewish holiday is a time when terror attacks are likely."

The explosives-laden car was safely destroyed in a controlled explosion, Army Radio reported. Soldiers were still combing the area Thursday morning for the men who had fled the vehicles.

David Baker, an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the car bomb was the Palestinians' gift to Israel for the Jewish New Year. "A New Year tragedy has been averted and many Israeli lives have been saved." he told the Associated Press.

Arrests near Nablus, mortars in Gaza In the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, soldiers from the Nahal Brigade arrested three wanted Hamas members overnight. Two of the Palestinians were planning to perpetrate a suicide bombing attack in Israel over the Rosh Hashana holiday. During the operation, Palestinians opened fire on the soldiers, but no injuries were reported.

Two mortar shells were fired overnight at the Gush Katif bloc of Jewish settlements and a Kassam rocket was fired into the northern part of the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.

"Yesterday, a mortar fell in our kitchen and luckily no one was there," Kfar Darom resident Asher Mitzari told ynet. "This time the mortar fell outside our house, only one meter away from the kitchen. Our car was damaged as well as the neighbor's house."

On Wednesday, two home-made bombs were discovered near the home of former prime minister Ehud Barak in Kochav Yair. The first bomb included a fire extinguisher with a cellular phone attached to it. Sappers who arrived on the scene said the fire extinguisher was packed with explosives and shrapnel. The second bomb was discovered 20 meters away, six hours later.

Ellis Shuman Israelinsider

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