Israeli forces killed two Hamas terrorists and wounded a third after spotting them approaching the Gaza Strip security fence early Monday morning.
Army officials said they believe the Palestinian gunmen were trying to attack Israeli soldiers patrolling the Israeli side of the fence. Hamas recently established a border patrol force tasked with thwarting Israeli anti-terror incursions into Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week rejected the idea of negotiating a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, insisting that Israel is engaged in a war with the Gaza-based terrorists that must be won. Last week, Israeli President Shimon Peres said there is no need for negotiations since the moment Hamas and its allied terror groups stop firing rockets at southern Israel, Israeli forces will halt all operations in Gaza.
Palestinian terrorist operating out of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip fired at least seven rockets at southern Israel on Sunday, causing damage but no injuries.
One rocket slammed into a factory in the sensitive and vulnerable industrial zone of the southern port city of Ashkelon. Another landed near a public building in the battered town of Sderot but failed to explode.
In related news, the Hebrew University this week released the results of a survey that show Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza did not win it the long-lasting approval Israeli leaders promised. Researchers said Israel's image improved significantly in the US and British news media as Gaza's Jewish population was being uprooted, but the spin turned against Israel again almost immediately after the pullout.
Prior to the withdrawal, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his then deputy Ehud Olmert conducted an intense public relations campaign to convince Israelis that the move would garner Israel the kind of international support and legitimacy it had never enjoyed.