13 IJ militants killed in Israeli airstrikes | world | Hindustan Times
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13 IJ militants killed in Israeli airstrikes

world Updated: Dec 18, 2007 23:01 IST
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Israel killed 13 Palestinian militants in air strikes in the Gaza Strip that marked its most deadly military response in months to frequent rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled territory.

Islamic Jihad, the group behind many of the rocket launchings that have been disrupting life in southern Israel, said four of its members were killed on Tuesday as they walked out of a mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Hours earlier, air strikes killed seven Islamic Jihad militants, including a senior Gaza commander, prompting the group to threaten suicide bombings inside the Jewish state.

Israel has not been hit by a suicide bombing in 11 months, a respite that helped pave the way for renewed peace efforts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who opposes such attacks.

In Paris, where he attended an international donors meeting that followed last month's Annapolis peace conference, Abbas called on Israel to stop construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. He described the building work as "an obstacle that hampers negotiations".

Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon, speaking on Army Radio, said construction was largely limited to settlement blocs Israel intended to keep in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

Commenting on the Israeli air strikes, Ramon said: "I can tell you that targeted killings in the West Bank have led to a drastic drop in terror attacks ... and in the Gaza Strip it certainly reduces the number of rockets fired into Israel."

Israel uses the term "targeted killings" to describe attacks on top Palestinian militants.

In the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, an air strike on a Hamas security position killed two members of the group, Hamas officials said.

The Israeli military said the attack was in response to mortar bombs fired earlier at southern Israel. It said five rockets were also launched by Gaza militants. No one was hurt on the Israeli side.