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Six Hamas activists killed during Israeli raids in Gaza Strip

Nov. 5, 2008 1:27 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 5, 2008 1:27 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - The death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to six on Wednesday morning after another Al-Qassam Brigades fighter died of wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike near Khan Younis.

Five Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades activists were killed earlier on Tuesday evening by Israeli fire in the Al-Qarara area of Khan Younis and at Juhr Ad-Dik, in central Gaza.

An Al-Qassam Brigades leader, Mazin Sa'da, who is also a police officer, was killed and four civilians were injured including a woman as Israeli forces invaded Juhr Ad-Dik and clashed with Palestinian fighters, according to Muawiya Hassanein, director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian health ministry.

Separately, an Israeli drone launched a missile at a group of Al-Qassam activists in Al-Qarara, killing four of them. Mu'awiya Hassanein identified the victims as Muhammad Ba'lusha, Omar Al-Alami, Muhammad Awad and Wajdi Muharib.

Israeli sources announced that one soldier was slightly injured in Deir Al-Balah.

Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that it launched eight mortar shells at Israeli forces in the central Gaza Strip near the military post of Kissufim. They affirmed they would block any Israeli attempt to invade the Gaza Strip regardless of the ceasefire, which would not prevent them from defending the Palestinian people. The statement warned of a tough retaliation to any invasion attempt.

Witnesses told Ma'an that they saw large numbers of Israeli tanks near the abandoned Israeli settlement of Dugit near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as helicopters overhead.

An Israeli military spokesperson claimed that the incursion in the central Gaza Strip came after Israeli intelligence received reports about Hamas plans to abduct an Israeli soldier using a tunnel under the border.

"The Palestinians detonated the tunnel after Israeli forces besieged the building," he claimed.

With regard to the ceasefire, the spokesperson said the Israeli incursion intended to protect ceasefire.

The de facto government in the Gaza Strip held the Israeli government responsible for all the consequences of their "aggression," describing it as the most serious violation of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire since it went into effect in June.

***Updated 9:15 Bethlehem time
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