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ESCALATION IN THE GAZA STRIP

Pickup truck loaded with Qassam rockets explodes inside the crowd killing 19 people

Hamas blames Israel and fires rockets into western Negev and the town of Sderot

explosion in Hamas rally

It all began during a Hamas rally at the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The Hamas members brought in pickup trucks loaded with Qassam rockets and explosives while waving their guns and shooting to all directions. The explosives were accidentally triggered, apparently as a result of the shooting, and the truck blew up, killing at least 19 Palestinians and injuring another 120. The Hamas was quick to blame Israel, which denied having anything to do with the incident.

Mahmoud Abbas

On the other hand, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticized the Hamas terrorists and blamed them for killing the 19 Palestinians. Abbas spoke to several thousand supporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Saturday. He called on the Hamas to stop its military parades in the streets.

“What happened yesterday is what we always feared would happen, and what we always warned against. Today, we are required more than ever to end this tragedy that resulted from chaos and military parades in residential areas”.

Thousands of Palestinians took part in the funerals of the people who died in this explosion. The funerals were led by armed Hamas members who called for revenge on Israel for its actions.

Later on the Palestinians fired more than 35 rockets from the Gaza Strip into western Negev and the town of Sderot, injuring two people.

Palestinian Gunmen

Israeli officials warned before that if the Palestinians will launch new wave of terrorism after the disengagement, Israel will make them wish they hadn't. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered security forces Sunday to use any means necessary to put an end to barrage of Qassam rockets fired at the town of Sderot and western Negev communities over the weekend and the IDF launched Operation “First Rain,” which is not limited in time, with the bombardment of several targets in Gaza and with a wave of arrests of no less than 207 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, most of them senior Hamas members.

According to Israeli commentators, the Palestinian Authority did not use the opportunity to act against the Hamas and other terror groups and to put an end to the anarchy ruling the streets of Gaza; therefore we can expect to see more parades of this kind.

David Essing

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