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Israel says it killed senior jihadist in Gaza strike

Israeli warrplanes kills a senior jihadist militant, two days after its air strikes hit training ground used by Islamic Jihad militants near central and northeast Gaza Strip

AFP , Friday 30 Dec 2011
Palestinians carry the body of a militant during his funeral in Gaza City December 28, 2011. (Photo:Reuters)
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Israel said its warplanes killed a senior jihadist militant on Friday, two days after announcing it was weighing a wider campaign in the territory to curb a boost in rocket attacks.

Israel's military identified the man killed as a "senior operative in the global jihad movement" who was involved in planning an attack from Egypt.

Palestinians said that Moamen abu-Daff, known locally as a fundamentalist Islamic Salafi militant, was killed in a raid east of Gaza City that also wounded another man. They did not link the dead man to a specific group.

The Israeli military said that the target was a group of men preparing to fire a rocket into Israel. Palestinian eyewitness said they saw militants in the area immediately before the strike.

"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," a military statement said.

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

Israeli military sources said on condition of anonymity that Abu-Daff had planned and executed the laying of explosives along the Gaza-Israel border fence and "was actively involved in the preparations of the attempted terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border that was thwarted this week."

On Tuesday Israeli warplanes struck twice at what the military called "global jihad" targets in Gaza, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding 10, Palestinian officials said.

Israel said at the time that both targets were hardline followers of the global jihadist movement, planning cross-border attacks from neighbouring Egypt.

In August, gunmen infiltrated southern Israel from Sinai and carried out a coordinated series of ambushes on buses and cars on route 12, which runs along the Egyptian border some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

The attacks took place over several hours, leaving eight dead and more than 25 wounded.

On December 8, shortly after Israeli troops went on high alert along the border over fears a fresh squad of gunmen had crossed into southern Israel, Israeli aircraft killed two men in Gaza City that the military said had been planning another raid from Sinai, which also borders Gaza.

Palestinian militants fired two rockets at southern Israel on Thursday, after Israeli warplanes attacked "terror sites" inside the Gaza Strip, the army said.

Both fell in open ground without causing injuries or damage.

Early on Thursday morning, Israeli warplanes targeted "terror sites" in central and northern Gaza in retaliation after rockets were fired across the border on Wednesday.

"Israeli air force aircraft targeted a terror activity site in the central Gaza Strip, and a terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip," a military statement said, indicating it was a response after five rockets landed in Israel, none of which caused any damage or injuries.

Palestinian security sources said the air strikes hit a training ground used by Islamic Jihad militants near central Gaza and another training ground northeast of Gaza which belonged to Hamas's armed wing, causing no casualties.

On Wednesday, a senior Israeli officer said the military was preparing for a possible large-scale military campaign in Gaza if the Palestinians did not halt their rocket attacks.

"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 -- at least half of them civilians -- and 13 Israelis, including 10 soldiers.

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