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Israel launches strike on Gaza City

Clampdown imposed in West Bank amid wave of terror

A Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance races through Gaza City Monday night.
A Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance races through Gaza City Monday night.  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli helicopters struck a suspected weapons factory in Gaza City on Monday night following a weekend of terror attacks that killed 13 Israelis.

The Israel Defense Forces said its forces attacked a steel works used to manufacture weapons.

"The IDF will continue to attack and destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza Strip and in every place where there is terrorist activity against Israeli citizens," the IDF said.

One explosion lit up the nighttime sky with a bright blue flash. Moments later electricity went out in parts of the city.

Three helicopters began their attacks shortly before 10 p.m. (3 p.m. ET) in the Zeitouni neighborhood, circling the city for more than half an hour. The attack lasted about 15 minutes.

CNN crews said at least three rockets were fired. They said ambulances were moving throughout the city and there were no signs of Israeli troops moving on the ground.

Palestinian sources said four people were lightly wounded.

The deadliest terror attack of the weekend came Sunday when nine people were killed and more than 50 wounded when a suicide attacker blew himself up on a bus near Safed in northern Israel.

Two other Israelis were killed later Sunday in a shootout with a Palestinian gunman in Jerusalem.

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  •  Palestinian politics
  •  IDF: Arms workshops destroyed in Rafah
  •  Gallery: Palestinian fatalities
  •  Victims of terror
  • Orchestrating a common ground

Early Monday morning, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a family of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, killing a man and his pregnant wife and wounding their two children, the IDF said.

The IDF identified the victims as Avi Volansky, 29, and his wife, Avital, 27. The attack took place near Eli, a settlement north of Ramallah, at 12:30 a.m. (5:30 p.m. Sunday ET).

The little-known Martyrs of the Palestinian Popular Army, a splinter group associated with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the shooting. (More on the weekend violence)

In response to incidents, Israeli officials restricted the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank towns of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Ramallah. Israel lifted some restrictions in Bethlehem and Hebron, saying the measures would be eased in areas that are quiet.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the restrictions would "only add to the complexity of the situation."

In another incident Monday, a suicide bomber who hitched a ride with an Israeli Arab security guard was killed and the guard seriously wounded when the bomber's explosive belt apparently went off prematurely at a junction near the Israeli Arab town of Um-el-Fahm in northern Israel.

Israeli police called the incident a "work accident," an Israeli euphemism for a terrorist bomb that goes off prematurely.

IDF catches Hamas commander

The IDF said Monday its troops had captured Hamas commander Mazan Kukha, whom authorities said they suspect of dispatching the suicide bomber responsible for Sunday's bus explosion.

Israel also blew up the houses of suicide bombers' families over the weekend in Nablus.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group the U.S. State Department lists as a terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing but did not include the bomber's name.

Hamas previously has named bombers and often released videotapes showing them. The change in tactics is believed to be in response to Israel's decision to destroy the homes of the bombers' families.

Israeli officials said they believed the Safed bomber was from Jenin.

Hamas said the attack was part of a wave of operations intended to avenge the July 22 Israeli airstrike in Gaza that killed Salah Shehade, commander of Hamas' military wing. Fourteen other people, nine of them children, died in the attack.

Hamas said Sunday's bus attack also was intended to show its displeasure with a U.N. report on Israeli operations at the Jenin refugee camp in April.

At one point, Palestinian officials contended Israel had carried out a massacre at the camp, but the U.N. report said the evidence didn't substantiate those allegations. The report blamed both sides for their treatment of civilians.

Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday that Israel had intercepted and arrested 140 suicide bombers.

"It's enough to tell you that today we are getting close to 140 men and women suicide [bombers] in our hands alive," Ben-Eliezer said. "Imagine what would have happened if no one had stopped them."

U.N. chief says 'concrete steps' needed

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on world powers Monday to take concrete steps to convince the Palestinians and Israelis that their concerns are being addressed and there is hope for the future.

Annan asked the so-called "Madrid quartet" -- the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia -- to re-energize efforts to bring peace to the region.

"I believe we should be seen as taking concrete steps to achieve the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security in three years' time," Annan said.

"I think we should be seen as taking steps that will lead to a Palestinian state, to convince the Palestinians that there is a prospect and hope on the horizon for them," he said.

On the other hand, Annan said, "we should also be seen as taking steps to end terrorism and assure security for Israel. We should move forward purposefully, deliberately, but both communities must be convinced that we are tackling their core issues."

In a related development, the U.N. General Assembly voted Monday to condemn attacks on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and it called for the "immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction" in the region. (Full story)




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