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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 17:14 GMT
Israel targets Gaza 'mortar crew'
Car in Gaza hit by Israeli air strike
The car was driving in the Khan Younis area
An unpiloted Israeli aircraft has fired a missile into a car in southern Gaza, but two Palestinian militants inside managed to jump clear seconds earlier.

Reports say the men were Hamas members who may have been on their way to fire mortars at the Gush Katif Jewish settlement near Khan Younis.

Some passers-by suffered minor wounds in the incident, witnesses said.

The Israeli army said the car was carrying men who had fired some 40 mortar shells this week alone.

Hours later, an Israeli tank fired a shell in the centre of Khan Younis wounding at least four Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy.

Israeli military sources said their forces had opened fire at the source of rockets that were launched at the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim.

Israeli officials had said after the death of Yasser Arafat on 11 November that they would stop air strikes targeting Palestinian militants so a replacement Palestinian leadership could negotiate a ceasefire.

However, they said they reserved the right to target militants about to carry out attacks.

Earlier in December, an Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a senior militant in the Khan Younis area but he escaped with minor injuries.

Palestinian militants have been waging a four-year intifada or uprising against Israel, whose forces have occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to pull out all 8,000 Israeli settlers and the troops who protect them from 21 fortified enclaves in Gaza. Israel will maintain control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace.

Israel and the Palestinians



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