Gaza Fighting Intensifies

Ad Feedback - GAZA STRIP - The fighting in the Gaza Strip intensified Wednesday, following an early morning ambush by Hamas terrorists that killed three Givati Brigade soldiers and wounded several more.

Fierce gun battles erupted as IDF troops encountered Palestinian gunmen in various locations in the Gaza Strip.

In one incident, Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, was killed by an Israeli tank shell that exploded in the air.

An autopsy by Gaza physicians showed that Shana died from flechettes, metal darts embedded in the shell.

Reuters News editor-in-chief David Schlesinger called for "a swift, honest and impartial investigation by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] and by the government."

In response, an Israeli military spokesman said, "The Israel Defense Forces do not, as a rule, comment on the weapons they use. But its weapons are legal under international law," she said.

"Flechettes are legal under international law and a petition filed in the Supreme Court against their use was rejected," said the IDF spokeswoman.

Shana's body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag and his camera and flak jacket carried on a separate stretcher.

An IDF official said while Israel regrets Shana's death, he was killed in a war zone.

"It must be remembered that there are battles against terrorist cells in the area on a daily basis. This fighting endangers the press and others not involved who are nearby," he said.

Twenty Palestinians were killed since midnight Tuesday.

In Gaza City, Palestinian gunmen fired from inside a mosque. The IDF returned fire, damaging the mosque. Later, IDF troops detonated bombs found inside the mosque, causing heavy damage, which was photographed and distributed, infuriating Muslim sensibilities.

Infiltration Foiled

Meanwhile on Thursday morning, an IDF Desert Patrol reconnaissance unit thwarted an attempted infiltration by a Hamas terror cell near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The desert patrol force killed one gunman and wounded another, while a third escaped.

Hamas confirmed the attack, acknowledging that one member of the cell was killed.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is used to transport food and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.

In June 25, 2006, Palestinian terrorists tunneled under the security barrier to an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom Crossing, killing two soldiers, wounding three and kidnapping Corporal Gilad Shalit, who remains in Hamas custody.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, The Associated Press, YNet news

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