Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Israel says it killed Islamic Jihad militant in airstrike

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli aircraft were in action Wednesday morning in at least three strikes against militants who targeted Israelis, the country's military said.

The Israel Defense Forces claimed a "direct hit" on Zadi Ismail Asmar, whom it said was a weapons smuggler affiliated with Islamic Jihad.

They said he "operated with terror elements in the Gaza strip" that had tried to carry out terror attacks in Sinai.

Hamas security and ambulance services confirmed that Asmar was killed while traveling in Rafah.

The Israeli air force also fired at two separate militants who shot rockets at Israel, hitting both, they said.

The Palestinians said two men were badly injured when their motorcycle was hit in Deir el Balah refugee camp in Gaza, but it is not clear whether they were talking about the same incident.

The strikes are the latest attacks in a heightened round of violence that began Thursday with a series of attacks on Israelis that left at least seven civilians and one soldier dead.

The string of attacks was the deadliest against the Israeli population in two years.

The strikes on buses, cars and security personnel also wounded more than 30 people, authorities said.

Since then, nearly 100 rockets have been fired into Israel, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said this week. At least one Israeli was killed in an attack in Beer Sheva, authorities said.

The Israeli military responded with attacks on what it called "terrorist infrastructure sites," the defense forces said in a statement.

Fifteen people, including three children, have been killed in the Gaza airstrikes, said Sami Zaqout of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Forty-four others were injured, Zaqout said.

The office of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement Sunday that Israel's "rogue behavior must end."

The Thursday attacks occurred about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Israeli city of Eilat, close to the Israeli-Egyptian border. Israeli soldiers exchanged gunfire with the assailants and killed seven militants, the military said.

Early Saturday, the Hamas military wing Izzedine al Qassam Brigades announced it was ending a de facto two-year truce with Israel.

The series of attacks and airstrikes come a month before Palestinian officials plan to make a bid for statehood in the United Nations.
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