Israeli raid kills Hamas leader on 6th day of blitz | world | Hindustan Times
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Israeli raid kills Hamas leader on 6th day of blitz

world Updated: Jan 02, 2009 08:08 IST
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Israel killed a top Hamas figure in the biggest blow yet to the Islamist's leadership as dozens more air strikes on Gaza took the death toll from the six-day blitz to at least 420.

With tanks and troops massed around the Palestinian enclave for a threatened ground offensive, Israeli warplanes and naval guns staged more than 50 new attacks on Gaza and Hamas sent more rockets deep into Israeli territory.

Two Israeli fighter jets fired missiles on the home of Nizar Rayan in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing the hardline firebrand speaker, his four wives, 10 of his children and two neighbours, witnesses and medical sources said.

Rayan's decapitated body was hurled into the street by the force of the blast, which also destroyed or damaged 12 nearby houses.

Rayan was the most senior Hamas figure to be killed by Israel since Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.

"Operation Cast Lead" has now left at least 420 Palestinians dead and more than 2,100 wounded, according to Palestinian emergency services.

Rockets fired from Gaza have killed four people and wounded dozens in Israel. Yesterday's Israeli strikes also hit the parliament and justice ministry in the main Hamas government complex, as well as rocket launching sites, tunnels for smuggling weapons or supplies into the territory and weapons storage facilities, a military spokeswoman said.

The army said it also bombed a mosque in Jabaliya that it called a "terror-hub" used as a Hamas operations centre and as a storage site for rockets and other weapons.