JEBALYA REFGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip – Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire Monday and Israeli helicopters rocketed what the army said was a mortar factory but Palestinians described as a workshop for spare car parts.
The violence came ahead of formal publication of an international commission's findings, already widely read, on how to stop eight months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
Monday's shelling began before daybreak when Israeli helicopter gunships rocketed the Jebalya refugee camp near Gaza City.
The shells badly damaged one building, knocking holes in the walls and shattering windows. Palestinians said it was a workshop for making spare car parts, while the army said it was a mortar factory.
Ahmed Rifayeh, 32, a worker, noted that the building is located along a busy main road and that it would be difficult to hide the production of mortars from passers-by.
The army said that 160 mortar shells have been fired from Gaza at Israeli targets in recent months, and that mortars were being made in several Gaza factories.
A factory for cement blocks and a book store were also damaged by the shelling. The Gaza security chief, Maj. Gen. Abdel Razek Majaida, accused Israel of hitting residential areas intentionally.
The street targeted by the shelling was littered with rubble and broken glass. About 100 Palestinians marched in the street, chanting, "Revenge, revenge" and "God is great."
On the outskirts of the Bureij refugee camp, near the border fence with Israel, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. The army said soldiers fired at Palestinians who planted explosives that were later discovered and detonated safely. Palestinian security officials said the two men were farmers on the way to their field.
Also Monday, Israeli troops fired tank-mounted machine guns at a neighborhood south of Gaza City, severely damaging several buildings, Palestinian officials said. Nearby, Israeli bulldozers razed several olive groves and farmlands on the outskirts of the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.
In the West Bank town of Hebron, a gun battle erupted between Israeli troops and Palestinian militiamen. One Palestinian was wounded.
On Sunday, Israeli tanks shelled the home of the West Bank security chief, Jibril Rajoub, in the town of Ramallah.
The Israeli army commander in the area, Lt. Col. Erez Winer, said Monday that soldiers fired at the house in response to shooting from the area, but that they did not intend to harm Rajoub.
The shooting from Rajoub's home "continued for a long time and the bullets hit army posts," said Winer.
Rajoub escaped with minor injuries. The security chief, one of the most pragmatic Palestinian military leaders, said he did not believe the Israelis intended to kill him, but that they were escalating their attacks on Palestinians.
"It's a clear message to the international community that the Israeli government is insisting to use state terror against the Palestinian people," said Rajoub, who has often participated in peace talks with Israelis.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also denied that the tank was aiming at Rajoub.