Rocket strikes school bus
An Israeli teen was critically injured when a rocket fired from Gaza hit the school bus he was riding in. The driver of the bus, which had dropped off all the children except for the injured teen, also was wounded by shrapnel in the April 7 attack. The bus was traveling near Kibbutz Sa’ad. A barrage of 16 rockets and mortars struck southern Israel after the bus attack. Roads near the area of the attack were closed to prevent further injury. The Israel Defence Forces launched an attack on targets east of Gaza City less than an hour later, killing one Palestinian and wounding, according to sources. A statement issued by Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s office said he ordered the strike on a Hamas target in Gaza because “he holds Hamas responsible for all terrorist attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.” On April 5, Israeli tanks killed an armed Palestinian as he approached the border between Gaza and Israel at the same time that three mortar bombs exploded in southern Israel.
IDF ups response to attacks
Israeli combat aircraft reportedly killed three Palestinian civilians in a retaliatory attack. Palestinian officials were quoted by Israeli media as saying that a 45-year-old woman, her 20-year-old daughter and a 55-year-old man were killed in the April 8 attack on southern Gaza. The Israeli army said in a statement the attacks targeted terrorists in retaliation for a missile attack on a school bus the day before that critically injured a teenage boy. “IDF forces identified two terrorist squads from the Hamas terrorist organization in two incidents in the southern Gaza Strip,” an army statement said. “Armed forces as well as IAF aircraft fired at the squads, and identified hits. The IDF will not allow any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the citizens of Israel.”
Iron Dome intercepts missiles
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system for the first time intercepted rockets fired from Gaza. Ashkelon’s Iron Dome intercepted two rockets fired April 7 on the southern Israeli city. The unit had been set up three days earlier. One Iron Dome unit is also set up in Haifa. Another will soon be put up in central Israel.
Palestinians harass journalists
The severe harassment of Palestinian journalists by Palestinian Authority and Hamas forces in the West Bank and Gaza has had a chilling effect on freedom of expression, a new report by Human Rights Watch says. The 35-page report issued April 6 documents cases in which Palestinian security forces tortured, beat and arbitrarily detained journalists in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to confiscating their equipment and preventing them from leaving the Palestinian enclaves. “Palestinian security forces are becoming notorious for assaulting and intimidating journalists who are just trying to do their jobs,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch. “Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza need to end these blatant attacks on free expression.”
Winery wins big prize
For the first time, the grand prize at Italy’s leading international wine competition has been awarded to an Israeli winery. The Golan Heights Winery, founded in 1983 in Katzrin, beat out 3,720 wines from from more than 1,000 producers in 30 countries to take home the so-called “Wine World Cup” – the Gran Vinitaly Special Award granted ahead of Italy’s annual Vinitaly wine trade fair in Verona, one of Europe’s top wine events, which opened April 7. It was the first time the grand prize went to an Israeli wine-maker, although the Golan Heights Winery had already won Grand Gold Medals at Vinitaly in 2004 and 2006. The 105-member jury included international wine experts and journalists. The winery’s products are marketed under the Yarden, Gamla and Golan labels.
– files from JTA