Israeli Airstrike On Gaza Kills Militant

By Salon Staff

Published December 30, 2011 11:18AM (EST)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft targeted Palestinian militants preparing to launch rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip early Friday, killing one militant, the military said.

Gaza's Health Ministry identified the Palestinian as 21-year-old Muaman Abu-Daf and said one other Palestinian was wounded.

The Israeli military said Abu-Daf was a senior operative in a small cell that champions the principles of global jihad. The group was responsible for laying explosives near the Gaza-Israel border and helping plan an attempted attack on the Israel-Egypt border this week, according to the military.

The targeted group also recently fired rockets at Israel, the military said.

On a Salafi-related Internet forum, two small groups inspired by the ultraconservative Islamic movement claimed affiliation with Abu-Daf, but the killed militant's family said he had been a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with the Fatah party of West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abu-Daf's body was displayed at a Gaza City mosque for Friday prayers, wrapped in a yellow Fatah flag.

Earlier this week, Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza, targeting militants it said were involved in the attempted attack on the Israel-Egypt border.

Such Israeli air attacks have been relatively rare since the end of a three-week Israeli war against Gaza militants three years ago.

This week, the Islamic militant group Hamas marked the anniversary of the Israeli military offensive in the seaside strip.

The offensive, launched in response to months of intense rocket barrages, killed some 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and caused widespread damage. Thirteen Israelis also died in the fighting.

At memorial ceremonies, speakers voiced support for continued armed confrontation with Israel.

After suffering heavy losses in the fighting, Hamas has largely maintained a cease-fire with Israel. It is believed to have restocked its arsenal with more powerful weapons, smuggled in through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

Salon Staff

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