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Israeli airstrike kills three Hamas members

Israeli aircraft strikes a car in Gaza city, killing three militants from Hamas' military wing, Palestinian sources and paramedics said.

world Updated: May 26, 2007 09:08 IST

Israeli aircraft struck a car in Gaza city, killing three militants from Hamas' military wing, Palestinian sources and paramedics said.

The Hamas-run al-Aqsa satellite channel said the aircraft late on Friday fired two rockets on a car in Sheja'ya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza city, adding the dead were members of Hamas rocket squad.

Mu'awia Hassanin, director of health ministry ambulance service, confirmed that three bodies arrived at Shifa hospital in Gaza, adding five bystanders were injured, one seriously.

The latest deaths brought the toll from the Israeli offensive in Gaza Strip to at least 39 since airstrikes began 10 days ago.

The strikes came after Hamas' military wing claimed responsibility for firing a barrage of home made rockets into Sderot city in southern Israel.

According to residents, Israeli Apache helicopters continued to over fly parts of Gaza Strip.

A series of airstrikes overnight on Friday hit seven targets in the space of 90 minutes, including a security post near the house of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, officials said.

An Israeli Apache helicopter fired a missile at the tin shack, metres away from his house in Gaza City's Shati (beach) refugee camp, destroying it, witnesses said.

Haniya's bodyguards are normally stationed in the security post. But it was empty at the time of the strike and there were no casualties.

An Israeli military spokeswoman stressed Haniya or his house had "certainly not" been the, target nor his bodyguards.

The target was the security post that was used by his ruling Hamas movement for militant activity, she said.

Four strikes in Gaza City and the southern towns of Khan Younis and Rafah shortly before targeted two posts of Hamas' Executive Force and a metal workshop that Israel said was an Islamic Jihad weapons factory.

Another Hamas building in northern Gaza and a Gaza City moneychanger's shop that Israel said transferred money to militants were hit shortly afterwards.

Eight people, including an 8-year-old boy, received slight and moderate wounds, said Dr Mu'awia Hassanin, the director for the Health Ministry ambulance service.

Another post of Hamas' Executive Force was hit south of Gaza City when the airstrikes resumed on Friday after a nearly 18- hour lull. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The post was believed to have been evacuated, witnesses said.

Israel launched its operations 10 days ago after Hamas, which leads a unity government with the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, turned to firing rockets into Israel as a way to end deadly clashes with the rival Fatah.

Some 220 rockets have been launched at southern Israel during this period, most of them by Hamas.

Militants continued their rocket fire on Friday, launching another eight rockets on the Negev desert and the town of Sderot, which at some five kilometres north-east of the Strip has borne the brunt of the rockets, prompting thousands of residents to leave temporarily and turning it into what witnesses have called a "ghost town."

In New York, Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour urged the UN Security Council to "use its power" to stop the Israeli airstrikes and call for an immediate ceasefire that should spread also to the West Bank.

First Published: May 26, 2007 09:06 IST