Israeli Offensive into Gaza Widens

Israel has widened its offensive into Gaza after Palestinian militants refused to return Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped several days ago.

Palestinian terrorist thugs also executed the 18 year old Israeli settler who was kidnapped on Sunday in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza. His body was recovered by Israeli troops.

Now, Palestinian terrorists are saying that they fired a chemical-tipped warhead into Israel, yet Israel isn’t confirming:

A spokesman for gunmen in the Gaza Strip said they had fired a rocket tipped with a chemical warhead at Israel early on Thursday

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the claim by the spokesman from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

The group had recently claimed to possess about 20 biological warheads for the makeshift rockets commonly fired from Gaza at Israeli towns. This was the first time the group had claimed firing such a rocket.

“The al-Aqsa Brigades have fired one rocket with a chemical warhead” at southern Israel, Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the group, said in Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army had not detected that any such rocket was fired, nor was there any report of such a weapon hitting Israel.

There are also reports that Israel has arrested over thirty Hamas cabinet members as well:

Israeli forces rounded up dozens of Palestinian Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from Hamas, increasing pressure on the Islamic militants to release a captured Israeli soldier, and witnesses said tanks moved into northern Gaza, widening Israel’s largest military operation in the year since Israel pulled out of the seaside territory.

Update: The Jerusalem Post reported three days ago that al Aksa Martyr’s Brigade claimed it had chemical/biological weapons:

The Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced on Sunday that its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons.

In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party, said the weapons were the result of a three-year effort.

According to the statement, the first of its kind, the group has managed to manufacture and develop at least 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons.

The group said its members would not hesitate to add the new weapons to Kassam rockets that are being fired at Israeli communities almost every day. It also threatened to use the weapons against IDF soldiers if Israel carried out its threats to invade the Gaza Strip.

Update II: Hot Air points to a Haaretz report, which has more on the execution of Eliyahu Asheri:

Eighteen-year-old Eliyahu Asheri, from the settlement of Itamar, was found dead by Israel Defense Forces late Wednesday night in the A-Tira neighborhood of Ramallah.

The location of Asheri’s body was tipped off to the IDF by a Palestinian militant arrested on Tuesday. Security forces found the body buried in a field, and determined that he was shot in the head soon after he was kidnapped on Sunday.

Update III: The IDF confirms Asheri’s murder; however, there was some confusion in the original report about where his body was found. He wasn’t found in buried in a field but in a car in a field:

IDF combat engineers and Shin Bet agents, acting on intelligence, found Asheri’s body Wednesday night in an abandoned car in an open field outside of Ramallah. The youth appeared to have been shot to death, and initial findings indicated that he may have been killed as early as Sunday.

Update IV: Sky News has video of the Israel offensive (hat tip Dan Riehl).

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