Palestinians: At least 12 dead, 45 hurt in Gaza City
Israeli military reportedly withdrawing after operation
From Kelly Wallace and Caroline McDonald
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- At least 12 Palestinians were killed and at least 45 others wounded, according to Palestinian sources, as Israeli forces moved into Palestinian-controlled Gaza late Saturday with tanks and helicopters.
"There is an activity in the area," said an Israeli military source, who would not provide details.
Saturday's action by Israel came a day after Israel Defense Forces blew up a bridge connecting Beit Hanoun to Gaza City. The IDF said the bridge was being used by Palestinian militants to launch Qassam rockets on Israel. (Full story)
Israeli media quoted Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Friday as saying that Israel was planning a series of military activities in Gaza to fight terrorist infrastructure in areas where Israel says militants fired the Qassam rockets.
Palestinian security sources said 20 Israeli tanks moved into a neighborhood in southeastern Gaza City on Saturday. Witnesses reported gunfire and said at least 15 Palestinian workshops were fired on by the Israelis. The tanks began leaving the area later in the evening, Palestinian sources said.
The Israelis say Palestinian workshops are used to produce weapons.
The Palestinian sources said two Israeli Apache helicopters were seen over Beit Hanoun, which was sealed off Friday by Israeli tanks and troops after the rocket attacks.
Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erakat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said at least two buildings were destroyed and that more than 100 armored vehicles were in Gaza City.
Asked about the reason for the operation, an Israeli military source said Israel will take actions "in response to the major Palestinian terror activity which fires Qassam rockets and mortar shells against Israeli citizens."
An Israeli official who did not want to be identified said, "This is the only way we can deal with it. We have to be proactive."
The Israeli military source told CNN that Palestinians fired two mortar shells Saturday at a Jewish settlement in northern Gaza. There was no damage and there were no casualties, the source said.
Israeli marines also fired three shells at Al Waha Casino near Gaza, Palestinian sources said.
The Israeli operations came days before elections scheduled for Tuesday, when Israelis will select a new parliament and prime minister.