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Naval commando killed in crackdown on Hamas (JERUSALEM POST) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 06/29/03) Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1056784358988
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Naval commando St.-Sgt. Erez Ashkenazi, 21, of Kibbutz Reshafim, was killed and another soldier lightly wounded during a large-scale operation against Hamas terrorists who were planning an attack on the Karni-Netzarim road on Friday.
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Three Palestinian terrorists were killed and three captured by security forces. Palestinians claim 15 were wounded.
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In the operation, which was launched late Thursday night and lasted until Friday morning, naval commando, Givati, and armored units, with IAF helicopter support, raided the Bakshi neighborhood and Nuseirat refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
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The goal of the operation was to surround homes belonging to the Ghoul and Saidi families and arrest fugitives affiliated with Hamas. The Ghoul family is closely related to wanted Hamas fugitive Adnan al- Ghoul, who is also known as "the mechanic" due to his expertise in bomb making.
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In the Bakshi neighborhood, Ashkenazi together with other commandos and security forces surrounded the home of Amran al-Ghoul, whose family members were planning to launch an attack on Israelis later in the day.
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The same terrorists are also responsible for the launching of Kassam rocket, mortar shell, and shooting attacks on Israeli communities in the area, officials said. After the soldiers called out to them to surrender, the fugitives in the house threw grenades, fired shots, and detonated bombs near the troops.
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Ashkenazi was mortally wounded by a bomb. He was treated at the site and died in the helicopter airlifting him to the hospital.
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The soldiers returned fire and killed two fugitives, Amran al-Ghoul, considered to be Adnan´s right-hand man, and Adnan´s son, Muhammad al- Ghoul. A third fugitive, Mahmoud al-Ghoul, was wounded during gun battles and later detained. Another Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Attiyah, who was in a house nearby, was also killed in the exchange of gunfire. After security forces completed searching the Ghoul home for additional fugitives and weapons, it was demolished. Additional armed fugitives sought refuge in the second home that belonged to the Saidi family. Zehariya Saidi, who was armed, attempted to attack the soldiers but was shot and killed. The soldiers captured two other armed fugitives who were inside the building, Dawib and Ikrah Saidi. Searching the building, soldiers found a Kalashnikov rifle, another gun, numerous grenades, and large amounts of explosives. After completing the operation the house was blown up.
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IDF officials said throughout the operation other Palestinian gunmen located in nearby buildings fired shots and antitank rockets and threw grenades at the soldiers.
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Shortly after dawn the soldiers pulled out of the area after completing the operation. Ikrah Saidi later admitted to investigators that he and his brother had been recruited into Hamas by Amran al- Ghoul and, aside from other terrorist activities, were responsible for compiling intelligence on the movements of IDF troops in the area.
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Gaza Divisional Commander Brig.-Gen. Gad Shamni told reporters that despite the painful price paid, the operation achieved its goals and was a success. In a briefing at the Erez crossing, Shamni said "the terrorists were planning to perpetrate a large-scale attack on the Karni-Netzarim road against troops and civilians today. When the soldiers reached their target they were confronted with gunfire, grenades and bombs that were detonated near them."
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Shamni said that the soldiers operating at the Ghoul home, where Ashkenazi was mortally wounded and another soldier lightly wounded, were confronted with an extremely complex situation, he said.
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"The soldiers acted determinedly and professionally and, despite the heavy price we paid, three senior terrorists were killed," he said.
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During the operation the soldiers went to great lengths to prevent innocent civilians from being harmed, including women and children that were in both of the houses where the fugitives hid, he said.
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Shamni noted that in the last month there has been a sharp increase in terror attacks orchestrated by Hamas. The Hamas bomb-making industry is flourishing, he said, adding that the terrorist organization receives help from overseas in a number of ways. In the past two years in the Netzarim area alone, over 90 large bomb attacks have been attempted by terrorists. Friends, relatives, and comrades-in-arms arrived at the Ashkenazi home on Friday to comfort the grieving parents and brothers and sisters. Erez had celebrated his 21st birthday with his friends a week earlier.
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His father, Yinon, told reporters, "This country is going backwards. I lost a brother in the Yom Kippur War and now I lost my son, I lost my boy." Erez is survived by his parents Yinon and Batya, his two sisters, Roni and Lilach, and his brother, Aviv. He will be buried in the kibbutz cemetery Sunday at 6 p.m. (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 06/29/03)
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