Israelis destroy three Palestinian factories


The Israeli army demolished three Palestinian factories it says was producing mortar shells in the Gaza Strip today in response to what military officials said was the firing of 30 shells at Israeli settlements in the area.

Palestinian witnesses denied shells were produced at the factories, saying that machines to cut wood and marble were made at the facilities.

A Palestinian security officer was killed yesterday when Israeli tanks fired at security posts in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said. The army said shots had been fired from the posts toward settlements.

Israeli forces shot surface-to-surface missiles toward three factories in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said.

Helicopters flying over the area shot heavy-calibre bullets, they said. The Israeli army said the plants produced mortar shells.

"The army will continue to operate in order to stop the Palestinian terror and to protect the lives of Israeli citizens," the military said in a release on the strike.

About 30 mortar shells had been fired toward Jewish settlements in the area in recent days, Israeli military officials said.

The attack set the buildings on fire, spewing black smoke into the air.

Several buildings around the factories were also damaged, the witnesses said.

Nearby, in Beit Hanoun, Israeli forces shot artillery shells at a Palestinian police post, destroying it, Palestinian security said. The shells also hit an electric transmitter, cutting off power in the area. The army said it shot heavy-calibre bullets in the area in response to the firing of a mortar shell.