Third day of Israeli strikes kills one Palestinian

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A Palestinian relative of Moamen abu Daff mourns during his funeral in Gaza City on 30 December 2011 after he was killed earlier in the day in an Israeli air raid. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed Abed)

Published Friday, December 30, 2011

An Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City on Friday killed one man and injured at least another in the third day of Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said.

Palestinians identified the dead man as Moamen Abu-Daff and said that he was known locally as an Islamist, but did not immediately link him to a specific group.

The attack follows two days of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in an attempt to escalate tension with the Hamas-ruled enclave.

An airstrike on Wednesday night destroyed an Islamic Jihad training site in central Gaza, while an Israeli air raid on Tuesday night killed one member of Islamic Jihad and wounded 20 others.

Israel claims the strikes were aimed at cells planning attacks on Israel, allegations denied by Hamas.

The Israeli military said that Friday's strikes targeted a group of men preparing to fire a rocket into Israel.

"Aircraft targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was confirmed, thwarting the rocket fire attempt," an Israeli military statement said.

"The aforementioned squad is responsible for the firing of rockets at Israel in the past number of days," it added.

Several Palestinian rockets have been fired into southern Israel in recent days in response to the Israeli airstrikes, none of which have caused any injuries or damage.

Hamas and Palestinian factions in Gaza have pledged to maintain restraint with Israel in spite of continued Israeli attempts to ignite the situation.

"All Palestinian factions agree to remain calm, but if [Israeli] strikes continue, this won't last long," Hamas interior ministry spokesman, Ihab Ghousain, warned after Tuesday's airstrikes.

On Wednesday, a senior Israeli officer said the military was preparing for a possible large-scale military campaign in Gaza in a bid to regain deterrence.

"We are preparing and ready for an additional campaign... to renew the deterrence," Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza division's southern brigade, told reporters in remarks widely published in the Israeli press.

Israel's last major operation against Gaza was Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day offensive launched on 27 December 2008 that cost the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of whom were soldiers.

Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz lauded Israel's 2008 war on Gaza as an "excellent operation," urging a repeat to be "swift and painful," following Tuesday's attacks.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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