(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

Since Thursday, 16 December 2004, IDF Infantry, Engineering and Armored Corps forces, in conjunction with the IAF, had been operating in western Khan Yunis, a region used by Palestinian terrorists for the launching of mortar shells. The aim of the activity was to minimize the firing of mortar shells and Qassam rockets at Israeli communities in Gush Katif, the western Negev and IDF posts in the area. In the last week alone Palestinian terrorists fired over 50 mortar shells and Qassam rockets, killing one and wounding 18 civilians and IDF soldiers.

During the course of the operation, armed Palestinians attempted to launch mortar shells, planted and detonated explosive devices, fired anti-tank missiles, hurled grenades and opened fire, including sniper fire, at IDF forces. One missile fired moderately wounded an IDF soldier who was taken to hospital for treatment. In total, IDF forces identified hitting 21 armed Palestinians. In addition, as part of the effort to weaken the mortar shell and Qassam rocket infrastructure, uninhabited structures used by Palestinian terrorists to fire such shells and rockets were destroyed.

In order to prevent the harming of innocent civilians not involved in terrorist activity, the IDF asked local residents in the area of activity to temporarily leave their homes. With the completion of the activity the residents can now return to their homes.