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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Israel airstrike on Gaza an escalation: Hamas

Hamas policemen try to control the crows as they inspect a destroyed car in Gaza City on 8 December 2011, after an Israeli airstrike on the car killed at least two Palestinians. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed Abed)
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011
Hamas accused Israel of escalating tension after an Israeli airstrike killed two people and wounded five more in Gaza City on Thursday.

Hamas health officials said an Israeli missile struck a car near a crowded park in central Gaza City killing two instantly and bursting the car into flames.

Hamas government official, Ahmad Abu Ayesh al-Najjar, accused the Israelis of escalating tension in Gaza, and violating an "undeclared truce."

“The Zionist entity does not need any excuses to attack Palestinians...the Israeli army is trying to escalate things and force the Palestinians to respond,” al-Najjar told al-Akhbar.

Media reports identified the dead as brothers Issam al-Batish and Sobhi al-Batish, with unconfirmed reports they were members of Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.

The airstrike was also confirmed by an Israeli military spokesperson who said the attack was carried out because the two men were believed to be planning an operation to attack Israeli civilians near the border with Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

This was denied by al-Najjar, who said the men were in civilian clothes when attacked.

"This is the repeated story of the Zionist entity, all the time they claim the civilians they target are planning to attack the Zionist entity, but it's only Palestinians getting killed," he said.

"[Israel's accusations are] just an excuse to justify this monstrous attack on the Palestinian people," he added.
The Israel spokesperson also said one of the men was suspected to be involved in the planning of a suicide attack five years ago, but these allegations could not be confirmed.

The attack on Thursday follows an Israeli ground incursion, backed by airstrikes, into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday that killed an Islamic Jihad fighter and injured four others.

Al-Najjar pointed to these incidents this week as proof of an Israeli attempt to escalate tension with Hamas.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation soldiers raided the villages of Deir Ghassana and Beit Rima in the West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported.

At least 300 Israeli soldiers accompanied by bulldozers reportedly tore apart homes and entered mosques in the two villages, witnesses said.

The latest development follows the burning of a mosque by suspected Jewish settlers in Bruqin on Wednesday, after a flaming tire was thrown through the window.

Jewish settlers regularly vandalize Palestinian property and harass Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank.

In October, a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya was set aflame by extremists from nearby Israeli settlements.

Israel maintains a military occupation of the West Bank, and a siege on Gaza.

(al-Akhbar, Reuters, AP, Ma'an)

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