(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), 13 June 2006, the IDF carried out an aerial attack in the northern Gaza Strip against a vehicle loaded with rockets and carrying a Islamic Jihad terrorist cell en route to launch long-range Katyusha (Grad) rockets against Israel. Thirty-eight rockets have been launched at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours; over 100 rockets have been launched at Israel since Friday, 9 June 2006.

According to Palestinians reports three terrorists who operated in the cell were killed, as well as eight civilians. After the attack the terror cell was seen removing the rockets from the vehicle.

"I state clearly that we are saddened by the deaths of these innocent Palestinians but hold absolutely no responsibility for them. The responsibility lies entirely on the shoulders of the Palestinians," said the Chief of Staff Dan Halutz last night, who added that "the incident must be evaluated in its context, which is that Palestinians attempted to launch Grad rockets against Israel, and we acted with determination to prevent their firing."

This is the fourth time in the past two months in which terrorist cells attempt to launch Grad rockets at Israel. On Knesset election day (March 28) a rocket fell south of Ashkelon; about a month later another attempt was thwarted. On the third attempt, which occurred on May 15, the rocket hit an Israeli community north of the Gaza Strip, and damaged civilian infrastructure.

These rockets are capable of causing much more serious damage than the Qassam rockets, because they can reach a range of 15 to 20 kilometers and carry much more explosives. Since Friday morning terrorists have launched over 100 projectile rockets at Israel, 38 of these within the last 24 hours.