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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK
Top Jihad member killed in Gaza
Palestinians surround the wreck of a car in Gaza
There was a huge explosion in Gaza at sunset
A top commander of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has been killed in an Israeli air strike.

Bashir al-Dabbash and another member of the group died when their car exploded in Gaza City.

The attack came as the Israeli army continued a major operation in northern Gaza, against those blamed for launching missiles into Israel.

About 70 Palestinians are reported to have been killed in the offensive - including 30 civilians.

Islamic Jihad's armed wing will return this strike with tougher strikes against the Zionist entity
Gaza political leader Khaled al-Batsh

The BBC's correspondent Alan Johnston says Gaza City was shaken by a huge explosion just as the sun was setting.

An enormous cloud of black smoke rose over a district near the sea, he said.

Vows of revenge

Bashir al-Dabbash is one of the most senior militants killed in Gaza since Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi was assassinated in April.

Israel confirmed that its air force had carried out the attack, and said Mr Dabbash was responsible for dozens of attacks on Israeli targets.

Militants carried his body from the wreck of the car, firing into the air and chanting vows of revenge.


"Islamic Jihad will not be broken by this martyrdom," said a political leader in Gaza, Khaled al-Batsh.

"Islamic Jihad's armed wing will return this strike with tougher strikes against the Zionist entity."

Israel has been engaged in a week-long army operation around the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, aimed at militants the Jewish state blames for launching rockets from Gaza into neighbouring southern Israel.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have reportedly been negotiating to end the Gaza operation.

Schoolbag mistaken

But the violence continued on Tuesday.

A teenage Palestinian girl was shot from an Israeli army observation tower in the Tel Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Iman al-Hams was shot 20 times, including five times in the head, as she walked to school, Palestinian doctors told the AFP news agency.

Israeli radio reported that troops had opened fire when children had entered an area "banned" to Palestinians. When the girl threw away her schoolbag, troops reportedly mistook it for a bomb and shot her dead.

In the Jabaliya camp, a missile strike killed a gunman and injured others.

In the West Bank, two members of the Palestinian security forces and an Israeli border policeman were killed during a raid in Ramallah.

And a member of Hamas was killed by Israeli troops near Hebron.


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