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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 14:13 GMT
Militants killed in Israeli raids
Aftermath of Israeli air strike in Gaza
Israeli missiles hit a number of cars in Gaza's crowded streets overnight
Israeli air strikes have killed at least 12 Palestinian militants in Gaza, including an Islamic Jihad leader, and a 13th was shot dead in the West Bank.

Israel accused Majed Harazin of leading rocket and mortar attacks against its territory. Reports say he is the most senior militant to be killed in a year.

The attack on his car killed an Islamic Jihad associate, while three more raids killed at least 10 other militants.

Israel's deputy defence minister said he was "very pleased" with the results.

The important thing is not the number of them who are hit but their place in the organisation's hierarchy
Matan Vilnai
Israeli deputy defence minister

Islamic Jihad described the deaths as a "big loss" and threatened "a wave of martyrdom operations" in return.

Thousands of people took to the streets in funeral processions on Tuesday for the dead militants, whose bodies were wrapped in black Islamic Jihad flags.

At one of the funerals, Islamic Jihad mourners fired shots into the air, severing a high-voltage power line which fell and injured at least five people.

'Rocket cell'

Islamic Jihad is a small militant group that has launched most of the rocket fire from Gaza in the past two years, which has killed about a dozen people in the vicinity of the narrow coastal territory.

Injured child in Gaza hospital
At least six bystanders, including children, were wounded in the raids

Israeli aircraft first struck after dark in Gaza City, killing Majed Harazin and another militant, and wounding a third passenger and six bystanders.

Hours later, a second strike in the south of Gaza killed four other Islamic Jihad militants.

The Israeli Army said the second strike was aimed at a cell that was about to fire rockets at Israel.

Early on Tuesday, a third strike killed four Islamic Jihad militants as they walked out of a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Islamic Jihad ordered its fighters to stay out of their vehicles and remove mobile phone batteries to foil Israeli electronic tracking.

Another air strike killed two members of Hamas manning a security post in southern Gaza.

In the northern West Bank, an Islamic Jihad military commander was killed in what appeared to be an Israeli commando raid.

'Very pleased'

Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, linked the Israeli attacks with Monday's donors' conference in Paris, at which aid was pledged for the Palestinian Authority while effectively freezing out his group.

"This escalation is linked to [the] conference... which we considered a declaration of war on Palestinian resistance," he told the Associated Press.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority was shaken by Hamas in June when it seized control of the Gaza Strip, condemned the Israeli air strikes but also condemned rocket attacks as "useless", according to AP.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said he was "very pleased with [his forces'] achievements" overnight.

"The important thing is not the number of them who are hit, but their place in the organisation's hierarchy," he told Army Radio.

Funeral of Palestinian militants killed in Gaza


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