Man killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Tuesday 30 April 2013 21.33
Palestinians gather around the scene following the Israeli raid
Palestinians gather around the scene following the Israeli raid

An Israeli airstrike has killed a Palestinian and wounded another in Gaza, medics said, in the first targeted attack against militants since a ceasefire ended an eight-day war in November.

An Israeli government spokesman said the military had hit a "jihadi who was an expert in manufacturing rockets".

He said that the man had "played a role" in a rocket attack from Egypt's Sinai peninsula against Israel's Red Sea resort of Eilat on 17 April, which had caused no damage or injuries.

Locals in Gaza named the dead man as Haitham Al-Mes-hal, 29, saying he was hit while riding a motorcycle in the north of the enclave.

He was believed to be a member of Hamas's national security force, but relatives said he also belonged to a militant Jihadist Salafi organisation.

Islamist militants in Gaza have fired intermittently at Israel in the past weeks despite an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire reached after the November conflict.

Hamas, an Islamist group close to the Muslim Brotherhood now ruling neighbouring Egypt, has cracked down on hardline Salafist rivals it sees as jeopardising its control of Gaza.

In an unrelated incident this morning in the nearby occupied West Bank, a Palestinian killed a settler in the first such incident since 2011.

The man stabbed and shot dead the settler, the Israeli ambulance service and police said.

It was the first time an Israeli has been killed by a Palestinian in the West Bank since 2011.

Israeli media said the attacker was standing at a bus stop used by settlers, Israeli soldiers and Palestinians at a junction near the Palestinian city of Nablus.

He then stabbed the settler, before seizing the man's gun and shooting him.

The Palestinian then began shooting at security services who arrived on the scene, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. He added that the man was in custody.

The Israeli internal security service, Shin Beit, has said that during 2012 no Israelis were killed in the West Bank.

In March 2011, two settlers and three of their young children were stabbed to death in their home.

Nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year in various incidents, mainly in clashes that have risen sharply in recent months.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Peace talks between the sides broke down in 2010.

The United States has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to revive them.

Keywords: israel, palestine