McClatchy Newspapers" -- EZBT ABED RABBO, Gaza Strip — Nasser Abu Freeh was one of the first to see the Israeli soldiers as they entered this pastoral Gaza neighborhood overlooking the Israeli border on Jan. 3, hours after the Israeli government ordered the first ground forces into Gaza.
Abu Freeh's two-story hilltop home is a favorite spot for Israeli soldiers, who used it as a command post during three previous attempts to deter Gaza militants from firing crude rockets into Israel from the surrounding cattle farms, orange groves and dirt alleys.
Scouts from the militant Islamist group Hamas also favored the hilltop as a place to watch for approaching Israeli soldiers, and the fighters tried to lure the Israelis into a trap by planting land mines outside Abu Freeh's home.
As the Israelis moved in, neighbors said, the Hamas scouts put up little resistance and quickly fell back into the more densely populated part of the neighborhood.
Within hours, the Israeli soldiers took over Abu Freeh's house, moved the seven people living there into one room and began interrogating the adults. The questioners were angry because one of their soldiers had been killed nearby in the early hours of the ground offensive, and they wanted to know what traps Hamas had set for the Israeli forc... >>>
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