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Israel targets Palestinian militants in Gaza Strip

December 27, 2011 |  6:06 pm

Damage in Gaza air strike
REPORTING FROM THE GAZA STRIP AND JERUSALEM -- Israel targeted Palestinian militants in a pair of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday. According to Palestinian medical sources in Gaza, the first strike targeted a motorized rickshaw in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing Abdallah Telbani, 22, and injuring several others. 

An Israeli army statement issued shortly after the strike said the target had been a "squad affiliated with recent terror activity."

In a second, separate raid, Israeli forces targeted a vehicle in the northern part of Gaza City. Medical sources in Gaza said eight people were injured in the strike, five of them passengers in the vehicle.

Palestinian sources didn't immediately report fatalities in the second strike. The Israeli army swiftly named two men it said were killed: Rami Khafarna and Hazam Shakr. It described them as former Hamas members currently affiliated with Global Jihad.

The targets were part of a squad known to be attempting to carry out an attack on the Egypt-Israel border, said the army statement. To Israeli media, military sources added that the ring was planning an attack on the border area via Sinai. The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was aware of this, they said, as well as elements planning similar attacks, but that it prefers to avoid confronting them.

The army said Hamas was "solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip."

In August, gunmen launched a series of attacks along the Egypt-Israel border, killing Israeli civilians and soldiers. 

The airstrikes occurred on the third anniversary of what Israel called Operation Cast Lead, a three-week military assault on the Gaza Strip. They also came as Palestinian leaders grapple to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, which controls the West Bank.


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-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem and Rushdi Abu Alouf in Gaza

Photo: Palestinians gather around a car damaged in an Israeli airstrike in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Dec. 27, 2011. Credit: Adel Hana/Associated Press