Armor: September 19, 2002

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After a summer-long hiatus, the Palestinian terrorists have resumed Command Detonated Mine attacks against Israeli tanks. One Israeli Army soldier was killed and three wounded at the Gaza Strip security fence (north of the Kissufim checkpoint) on the morning of 5 September, when an explosive device was detonated under their tank. Unconfirmed reports were that the tank was a Merkava 2B, that the driver was killed, while the loader and the gunner were badly injured. The tank commander was lightly wounded.

The military described a two-pronged attack. First, Palestinians fired anti-tank missiles at an army post at night, drawing the tank and soldiers to the scene to search for the launchers. The tank crew had been combing the area for two terrorists, who had left bombs and antitank rocket launchers on the Palestinian side of the fence. When the tank came close to the explosive charges, one of them was set off. 

The site is near the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, west of Gaza, where the day before a Palestinian house and a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school sustained damage from two tank shells. 

Palestinian reports claim that local residents saw the tank catch fire and heard the crew calling for help. Israeli reports later indicated that the explosion (which set the tank on fire) also blew off the tank's turret, which pinned down the crew for several hours and complicated rescue efforts. 

Israeli reinforcements sealed off the area, prevented anyone from approaching, evacuated the casualties by helicopter and, according to the Palestinians, opened heavy machine-gun fire on the nearby houses. The Palestinian "popular resistance committees" quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. - Adam Geibel



 


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