After seven Palestinians were killed in less than one day in the west Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz vowed Tuesday that the operations of the Israeli army would continue to prevent what he described as “further rocket fire into Israel”. Rocket fire refers to Palestinian homemade shells.

The statements of Peretz came after the Israeli army killed seven Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Several residents were injured in the Israeli assaults.

Peretz “praised” the soldiers for what he described as preventing an infiltration attempt on Monday near the West Bank city of Nablus, and for the arrests carried out throughout the occupied West Bank.

Also, Peretz added that the army would “do its best” to maintain calm along the northern borders with Lebanon, and that Sunday’s rocket attack by Hizbollah fighters on northern Israel reflects “an attempt by the party to strengthen its legitimacy in Lebanon’s political arena, and to justify the militant group’s continued presence in the country’s south”.

He stated that he instructed the Israeli army to maintain a state of  preparedness in the territories and along the borders.

On Monday night, special units of the Israeli army, operating in a ground operation deep inside the northern part of the Gaza Strip, killed at least three members of an Islamic Jihad.  

Army claims that those members are responsible for firing homemade shells into Israeli areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli army source claimed that soldiers set up an ambush within the ruins of the evacuated coastal settlement of Dugit, close to Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip,  and when fighters of the Islamic Jihad  arrived, “intending to fire rockets at the northen Negev”, soldiers opened fire, backed by a military helicopter gunship.

Following the attack, the Israeli air force fired missiles at the same area killing at least one fighter. A fifth man died of his wounds after the strike. Two Palestinians were killed in separate military attacks in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarem. No injuries were reported among the Israeli soldiers.

The missiles fired last night by the army also targeted an ambulance crew who were trying to rescue the injured fighters and evacuate the bodies of the killed ones; at least one medic was injured in the attack.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed Israel’s attack and invasion to the Gaza Strip and described this operation as an unjustified escalation that would lead the area into further deterioration.    

This operation marks the first ground operation carried out by the Israeli army since the Gaza withdrawal last summer, but military sources said that a number of attack have been carried out without public notice.