CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were killed in the counter-terror operations in northern Gaza early Saturday morning.
Givati Brigades Staff Sergeant Doron Asulin, 20, from Beersheba, and Staff Sergeant Eran Dan Gur, 20, of Jerusalem, were killed by Palestinian gunmen during heavy fighting in the northern Gaza Strip.
Funerals for both soldiers take place Sunday. Asulin will be buried in Beersheva and Dan-Gur at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl military cemetery.
Seven soldiers were wounded in the fighting, six lightly and one moderately, and were transported by helicopter to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, military sources reported.
The Givati Brigade infantry units, supported by the IAF (Israel Air Force), were deployed to rocket-launching areas in northern Gaza. Since Wednesday, Palestinians from this area fired more than 140 Kassam and Katyusha rockets on Sderot, Ashkelon and communities in the western Negev.
"The activity is taking place in areas that the terror organizations want to guard, including launching pads," said one IDF source.
Palestinian gunmen fired mortar shells, anti-tank and RPG missiles on IDF troops. Sixty Palestinians were wounded in the fighting.
Following a security briefing Saturday by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the IDF operations are intended to drive Palestinian rocket-launching cells deeper into Gaza to impair their ability to fire rockets into Israel. Soldiers are also working to uncover and destroy rocket manufacturing facilities.
"The operation in Gaza is ongoing, and Hamas will be held responsible," the defense minister said.
"We are not happy [when] Gaza residents are hurt, but the responsibility lies with Hamas and those firing rockets," he said.
"Our responsibility is to keep the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon and the Gaza vicinity communities safe, and that we will do," he said.
Saturday evening, the IAF scored a direct hit on a truck transporting some 160 Kassam rockets that were to be fired on Israeli communities.
"Exact intelligence and quick location of the truck brought about a pinpointed strike," said an IDF spokesman.
Sources: YNet news service, The Associated Press