Seven killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza


Israel killed seven Palestinians in a series of air strikes in Gaza yesterday, including three senior Islamic Jihad militants and a rocket manufacturer for a wing of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group.

Israel's six successive attacks aimed at tightening its military pressure on the Hamas-ruled territory it wants to isolate, came three days after an offensive in which 12 Palestinians were killed in the coastal territory.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed three aerial attacks in Gaza, among them one that targeted a car of Gaza militants he said were involved in plotting a suicide bombing and in past attacks against Israel, and another against a weapons depot.

Palestinian security sources and witnesses said the three militants killed in the first strike in the town of Khan Younis were commanders of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza.

The second Israeli air strike killed the local commander of a rocket production crew with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Abbas's secular Fatah faction, whose forces were routed by Hamas Islamists in Gaza two weeks ago, the brigades said. The commander's son and two employees of his metal shop also died in the strike, the group added in its statement.

Israel has bombed metal foundries in the past, alleging they produce rockets fired at Israel, but witnesses said yesterday's attack was the first carried out during working hours rather than late at night when they were unstaffed.

An Israeli warplane later staged two successive raids at the same site where crowds had gathered after darkness fell, wounding five Palestinians, including four members of Hamas's executive force and a civilian, medics said.

Two rockets fired from Gaza shortly after the air strikes stuck in the Israeli town of Sderot, injuring one Israeli, the army said.