Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:12 UK

Four dead in Israeli air strikes

Israeli defence minister and Egyptian president meeting on Monday
The violence comes amid speculation of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire

Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip have killed a total of four people, Palestinian medical workers say.

Medics say an aircraft-fired missile hit a group of children near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, decapitating a boy, 13, and wounding two others.

Palestinian militants had launched rockets into Israel from the same spot 20 minutes earlier, eyewitnesses said.

In a second strike, a missile was fired at Palestinians planting explosives, the Israeli military said.

Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services, said a Palestinian man, Ali al-Dahduh, 32, was killed.

Hamas said two of its fighters had been killed and one wounded in a third Israeli attack, on the south side of Gaza City.

The Israeli military confirmed its aircraft targeted a group of armed men in that area.

Israel missiles strikes and land raids into the Gaza Strip have killed at least 14 Palestinians, two of them civilians, in the past two weeks.

Palestinian rocket fire has killed two Israeli civilians in the same period.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Jerusalem says there is growing speculation that Egypt may be close to brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas movement.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on a trip to Cairo on Monday that any deal had to involve the release of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Hamas, which has been in control in Gaza since last June, has in the past said it wants the ceasefire to include a lifting of Israeli sanctions on Gaza.

Hamas officials are now in Egypt and are due to issue a statement later on Tuesday.

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