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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Thursday August 18th, 2011.

17 killed in clashes between Israeli troops and unknown armed men in southern Israel and Israeli Air force bombards Gaza killing six Palestinians, the details coming up, stay tuned.

Fourteen people were killed and around 31 were wounded when a group of armed men attacked with rifles, mortar shells and explosive devices a bus carrying Israeli soldiers, a vehicle and another bus in southern Israel.

Israeli media sources said the first attack took place around 12:00 at noon when three unknown gunmen opened fire at Egged bus carrying Israeli soldiers going to Eilat for vacation. The sources said the assailants emerged from a white car.

A number of soldiers were killed and wounded, and other soldiers on the bus returned fire at the assailants.

Half an hour later a mortar shell was fired allegedly form Egyptian borders, however, now injuries were reported. Israeli news paper Haaretz reported in its online edition that the next attack took place around 1:10 pm with an anti-tank missile which hit a private vehicle, killing all its passengers.

Israeli back up troops arrived at the scene and were faced by a number of explosive devices that went off alongside the vehicles.

Israeli troops clashed with the gunmen killing seven of them. Israeli military officials believe that at least 20 gunmen were involved in the attack.

Apparently the rest of the gunmen managed to escape and the wounded were evacuated to hospitals in Eilat and Bir Sheva for treatment.

Shooting renewed as Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak and Israeli Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz were holding a press conference at the site of the noon attacks.

Israeli media sources said three armed men opened fire at an Israeli patrol sweeping the area. Two soldiers were wounded one seriously. One of the attackers blew himself up and the other two were killed by Israeli troops.

None of the Palestinian factions claimed responsibility for the attacks; however, Hamas said they praise those who carried out the attacks.

On his part, Abu Obaida, leader of Al-Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of Hamas said the brigade will respond if Israel attacks the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the Eilat attack, adding that any Israeli attack on Gaza is a declaration of war.

On their part, Egyptian officials denied an connection to Egypt with the attack and said there is no way anyone can infiltrate the Egypt-Israel border, adding that the assailants operated within Israel’s borders.

In the meantime, Israeli security sources said an intelligence message from Jordan to Israel suggested their intelligence indicated that a military attack in Israel is being plotted.

Shortly after the attacks Israeli air force bombarded the Gaza Strip killing at least six Palestinians and wounding some others.

Palestinian medical sources said six were killed, three of which were leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Al-Shu’outh area in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Palestine Information Center said the air strike targeted the house of Abu Awad Al-Nairab, Secretary General of the PRC. He, and Imad Hammad leader of Salah Eddin Brigade the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees in addition to a third PRC leader were killed in the strike.

Abu Mjuahid, spokesperson of Salah Eddin brigade that Israel opened the door for retaliation by bombarding Rafah.

That’s all for today, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center. For more updates, please visit our website at This report has been brought to you from Occupied Bethlehem by Husam Qassis and me George Rishmawi