IDF troops take up positions in southern Gaza Strip
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Israel Defense Forces soldiers crossed into the Gaza Strip early Thursday and took up positions on rooftops in the southern Gaza border town of Abasan, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said.
According to Israel Radio, the IDF spokesperson confirmed the report that the soldiers were operating in southern Gaza but did not elaborate.
Palestinian officials said the soldiers moved into the area in the southern Gaza Strip, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, militants began firing at them, sparking gunbattles that wounded two militants.
The violence came as Israel continued its offensive in the Gaza Strip, which it began June 28, three days after Hamas-linked militants tunneled into Israel, attacked an army post and captured Coporal Gilad Shalit.
Israel said it would continue the offensive until Shalit was released and militants ceased firing rockets into Israel.
A top Palestinian terror leader in the West Bank was shot in the head and critically wounded, militants and hospital officials said.
Hospital officials said Hosam Jaradat, the West Bank leader of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, was shot by Israel Defense Forces undercover soldiers in the Jenin refugee camp.
But Islamic Jihad said they were not sure Israel was behind the shooting.
The IDF said it was checking into the report.
Palestinian medics said Jaradat was taken to hospital and was in critical condition with a head wound.
Islamic Jihad operatives, fearing that IDF troops would arrest Jaradat in the hospital, whisked him from the facility. Since he was snatched from the hospital, Jaradat's whereabouts are unknown.
Jaradat is responsible for multiple suicide terror attacks in Israel. IN October 2003, he dispatched his relative Hanadi Jaradat to carry out a suicide attack in Haifa. Hanadi Jaradat killed 21 people in the Maxim restaurant.
Islamic Jihad operatives in the northern West Bank are responsible for all the terror attacks carried out in Israel over the past two years, including bombings in Be'er Sheva, Hadera, Netanya and Tel Aviv.
Tank fire hits Jihad man in Gaza
Near the Gaza Strip border town of Abasan on Wednesday night, an IDF tank fired a shell at two men who were approaching the border with Israel, according to Palestinian officials and the IDF.
Ambulance crews found one wounded person, an Islamic Jihad militant, in the area and were searching for others.
The IDF said soldiers identified two suspicious men crawling toward the border post, fired a tank shell at them and identified hitting them.