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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gaza Escalates

It's officially on in Gaza. The Melbourne Herald Sun:
ISRAEL has arrested dozens of Palestinian MPs including the deputy prime minister during its major offensive to try to free a teenage soldier captured by Palestinian fighters.

And the body of an Israeli settler, kidnapped over the weekend by Palestinian militants, was found overnight in Ramallah, Palestinian security sources said.

Eliyahu Asheri, 18, was the son of an Australian who moved to Israel 20 years ago.

In a raid on a complex of buildings in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the deputy prime minister Nasser Shaer, other MPs and Hamas lawmakers were arrested by Israeli soldiers, Palestinian security officials said.

AP:
Israel sent tanks into northern Gaza and arrested the Palestinian deputy prime minister and dozens of other Hamas government officials early Thursday, escalating its response to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

[snip]

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered northern Gaza before daybreak Thursday, adding a second front to the Israeli action in Gaza. The Israeli military had no comment on the latest incursion.

And this:
In a clear warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli airplanes flew over his seaside home near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria, military officials confirmed, citing the “direct link” between his government and Hamas. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved in the low-altitude flight, and that Assad was there at the time.
The Jerusalem Post is now reporting that the Israeli Defense Force has confirmed the death of 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri.
IDF combat engineers on patrol late Wednesday night in Ramallah found Asheri's body in an open field. The youth appeared to have been shot to death, and initial findings indicated that he may have been killed as early as Sunday, Israel Radio reported. Asheri's family has been notified.
And now this report from Reuters, via Allahpundit at Hot Air:
A spokesman for gunmen in the Gaza Strip said they had fired a rocket tipped with a chemical warhead at Israel early on Thursday.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the claim by the spokesman from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

The group had recently claimed to possess about 20 biological warheads for the makeshift rockets commonly fired from Gaza at Israeli towns. This was the first time the group had claimed firing such a rocket.

"The al-Aqsa Brigades have fired one rocket with a chemical warhead" at southern Israel, Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the group, said in Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army had not detected that any such rocket was fired, nor was there any report of such a weapon hitting Israel.

If this is true, it's gonna get real bloody real fast.

More to come?

Update: Head over to Israellycool for frequent updates.

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