Israeli Airstrike Kills

Senior Gaza Fighter

GAZA STRIP -- Israel killed a senior Gaza militant in an airstrike Wednesday and wounded 10 other people after vowing to avenge a suicide bombing that killed five Monday in the Israeli city of Netanya.

The violence put a new strain on a shaky Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire and distanced the chances of resuming peace efforts already largely on hold as Israel readies for a national election in March.

Mahmud Arqan, 29, senior field commander for the Popular Resistance Committees, was killed when two missiles struck his car in the Gaza town of Rafah.

Medics said 10 other people were wounded, among them three children younger than 10 who were struck by shrapnel from the vehicle as it traveled in a residential area.

The Israeli strike touched off a series of shooting incidents that persisted long past nightfall.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli army gunners pounded northern Gaza. The army said troops had fired several rounds at launch sites after militants fired rockets and a mortar shell struck inside Israel.


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-- From News Services