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Palestinians: Four killed in Gaza

Renewed violence prompts delay in security talks

Palestinian police inspect a car last week at a checkpoint in Beit Lahaya, Gaza. Palestinian police officially took control of the checkpoint Wednesday.
Palestinian police inspect a car last week at a checkpoint in Beit Lahaya, Gaza. Palestinian police officially took control of the checkpoint Wednesday.  

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Four people, including a mother and two of her sons, were killed early Thursday when an Israeli tank round struck their home, according to Palestinian sources. Eight other people were wounded.

Israeli security sources said the shooting occurred when Israel Defense Forces saw suspicious figures moving toward them and opened fire. An undetermined number of people were wounded and the IDF is investigating, the Israeli sources said.

Palestinian sources said two Israeli tanks entered Palestinian territory near the settlement of Netzarim and began firing.

The mother and her sons -- ages 17 and 18 -- were all in the same home when it was struck, the Palestinian sources said. The other person killed in the home was the boys' 20-year-old cousin, the sources said.

The tanks later withdrew and ambulances were able to reach the wounded, Palestinian sources said.

The area is near where Israeli ships fired cannons toward the southern part of Gaza City, aided by tanks, to stop suspected arms smuggling.

An IDF spokesman confirmed the military was trying to stop "some sort of smuggling" and deployed two ships to patrol the city's harbor.

It was not known who the smugglers were or whether the Israeli ships were successful in stopping the operation.

Throughout the morning, Israeli naval vessels could be seen off the Gaza coastline near Sheikh Ajli and occasional arms fire could be heard. Military sources said they were trying to recover barrels filled with "dangerous contents."

Checkpoint returns

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Palestinian police returned Wednesday to three checkpoints in Gaza the Israeli military had controlled in recent months, Palestinian sources said.

Their return is part of an agreement to return control of Gaza and Bethlehem to Palestinian security forces on the condition that violence decreases in areas where Israeli troops have pulled back.

The Israeli military took control of the three checkpoints -- at Beit Lahaya, Beit Hanun and Khan Yunis -- to reduce the movements of Palestinian militants who might launch attacks inside Israel.

Tanks, helicopters deployed

Overnight Tuesday, 11 Israeli tanks operated at the southern tip of the city and helicopters patrolled overhead, Palestinian sources said.

According to the IDF, its tanks and armored personnel carriers -- backed by Apache helicopters -- operated around the Gaza City port and the helicopters opened fire on targets.

The Israeli army reported that a mortar struck a Jewish house in Gush Katif in southern Gaza. There were no casualties, the army said.

As a result of the smuggling operation and the mortar attack, Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer postponed a scheduled Wednesday night meeting with Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razaq al-Yihya, Israel's Defense Ministry said.

The meeting was intended to discuss the security plan in Gaza and Bethlehem.

Fatal shooting

In another event, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man Wednesday at Dier e-Balah in central Gaza. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said the 28-year-old man died from a gunshot wound to the head.

The Israeli army spokesman's office said the man entered an area barred to Palestinians in north Gush Katif, a Jewish settlement.

The army said the man began throwing stones at an army post and proceeded to climb the fence surrounding the post, calling out, "Allah Akbar" (God is great). Soldiers warned him to stop, but he didn't and they shot him. A spokesman said the shooting is under investigation.

In the West Bank, the Red Crescent said machine gun fire from an Israeli tank killed a 36-year-old Palestinian man in his house in the Jenin refugee camp. The Israeli army said it was checking the report.




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