The IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz has instructed Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of the IDF Ground Forces Branch, to head a committee of experts which will investigate today’s events in Beit Hanoun.

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In an effort to disrupt and thwart the launching of rockets at Israeli population centers, the IDF this morning (Nov 8) carried out preventative artillery fire at the launching sites of the Kassam rockets. The fire was directed at the area from which Kassam rockets were fired yesterday at Ashkelon, in order to prevent further launches at the city. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 10 Kassam rockets have been launched from these areas into Israel.

Following reports of Palestinian civilian casualties, Chief of Staff  Halutz ordered a halt to artillery fire in the Gaza Strip pending investigation.

Preliminary findings indicates that the site in question is far removed from the area towards which the artillery fire was directed. Officers of the IDF Southern Command and Artillery Unit are in the field investigating the incident.

The IDF activity targets terrorist organizations and infrastructure only, and not Palestinian civilian targets, while the terror organizations deliberately target Israeli civilians.

The IDF expresses regret at any harm to uninvolved civilians, but stresses that the responsibility for this rests with the terror organizations, which use the Palestinian civilian population as a "human shield", carrying out terror attacks and firing Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers from the shelter of populated areas.

Again, the above information is preliminary, and the incident is being investigated.