Israeli Air Force Targets Smuggling Tunnels

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - In pre-dawn strikes Wednesday, Israeli aircraft targeted arms smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor, the narrow strip of land separating the Egyptian Sinai from the Gaza Strip.

The strikes were carried out in response to Tuesday's bombing of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit patrolling the border with Gaza, which killed one soldier, a Bedouin tracker, and wounded three others, one critically.

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The family of the soldier who was killed asked that his name and picture not be publicized.

On Tuesday evening, the government gave the IDF permission to respond aggressively to the bombing, a policy expected to apply to any attacks occurring after the three-week-long Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau chief Major-General Amos Gilad said Israel is no longer limited to closing border crossings in response to Palestinian terror attacks.

"The response will not be the way it used to be," Gilad said during an address at the National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

"The equation has changed," he said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Hamas can expect harsh responses to terror acts from this point forward.

"We do not intend to gloss over incidents like these," Barak said. "We will not let Hamas and its outgrowths continue their hostile acts of terror," he said.

"Anyone who hits us will have to absorb a serious blow in the future, too," the defense minister said.

Barak also ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom and Karni border crossings, delaying the transport of 185 trucks scheduled to deliver food and equipment to the Strip.

Several hours after the bombing, the IAF targeted a terrorist riding a motorcycle near Khan Younis.

The targeted air strike, which was coordinated with the Shin Bet (General Security Service) hit Hussein Abu Shamaya, one of the terrorists involved in Tuesday's bombing.

According to the Shin Bet, the terror cell that planted the bomb is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Ramattan, a Palestinian news agency, released footage of the bombing taken by the terror group. The video shows the explosion next to the IDF jeep, traveling on the Israeli side of the border.

Two IDF soldiers are seen running toward the jeep, ducking Palestinian gunfire before a secondary explosion hits them.

Earlier, a Palestinian farmer was killed in the crossfire that took place after the bombing attack, Palestinian sources reported.

Meanwhile, newly appointed U.S. Middle Envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel today, following meetings in Cairo Tuesday.

Mitchell will meet with Olmert and other top Israeli security and government officials and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides.

Mitchell will not meet with Hamas officials on this trip.

Sources: Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet news

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Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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