JERUSALEM – As the Jewish state considers a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip after the kidnapping yesterday of an Israeli soldier, Palestinian terror leaders tell WorldNetDaily they kidnapped a second Israeli citizen.
Mahmoud Abed El, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization, said the Israeli was kidnapped in northern Samaria. Abed El said his group will release more information about the abduction later tonight.
He threatened his group and other Palestinian terror organizations would continue kidnapping Israelis to deter Israeli operations in Gaza.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces told WND the army is receiving reports of a second kidnapping and is investigating.
The kidnapping apparently took place immediately after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a demand by terrorists calling for the release of all Palestinian women and children being held in Israeli jails in exchange for information about Gilad Shalit , a 19-year-old Israeli soldier abducted yesterday during a major raid on a military installation here.
“This is not a matter of negotiations, this is not a matter of bargaining,” Olmert said in a speech to a gathering of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
A pamphlet sent to media outlets today and signed by the Committees, Hamas and a new organization calling itself the Army of Islam said it would release information on the fate of Shalit only if Israel freed Palestinian women and minors. According to recent figures, Israel currently has 95 Palestinian women and 313 children in its prisons. Most children either carried out attacks or were caught attempting to smuggle suicide belts out of Palestinian villages.
During yesterday’s raid, eight Palestinian terrorists used a half-mile tunnel they dug to infiltrate behind Israel’s Kerem Shalom military station on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border.
Soldiers at the border usually monitor the Gaza Strip and not the Israeli side, where the tunnel exit was located.
Upon exiting the tunnel, the Palestinian terrorists split into three cells, one lobbing more than 20 anti-tank missiles at an army tank; another attacking the tank with grenades, killing the two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping Shalit; and the final cell attacking an army lookout post.
Two terrorists were killed during the raid, while the others escaped back into Gaza with the kidnapped soldier. The army was not aware one of its troops had been kidnapped until several minutes after the operation.
The Kerem Shalom station had been on high alert the past few days after the army received specific warnings of a terror attack there. One of the warning alerts, obtained by WND, outlined the possibility of a Palestinian attack using a tunnel.
Today, a senior military intelligence official told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Shalit is being held in the Gaza Strip by senior members of Hamas’ so called “resistance wing.”
The officer told the Knesset Israel does not know exactly where Shalit is, but “we understand that the soldier is alive and lightly wounded.”
Meanwhile, Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip, including imposing a naval blockade on the areas that run along the Mediterranean Sea, for fear Shalit’s captors will attempt to smuggle him out of the territory.
The IDF deployed thousands of ground troops fortified by tanks stationed at the northern entrance to Gaza. Soldiers have been put on high alert and are being readied for a possible incursion.
Israel’s security cabinet has been holding emergency meetings throughout the day and is debating a large Gaza offensive, although military operations seem to have been put on hold while the international community attempts to broker Shalit’s release.
If the Israeli army enters Gaza, its immediate activity likely will focuse mainly on the northern section of the territory and may later expand to include other Gaza hot spots.
Officers stationed at the Gaza border told reporters they were preparing for several scenarios, including the possibility of starting off with a small incursion that would gradually expand.
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