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Israeli airstrikes kill 1, injure 10 in Gaza

July 31, 2010 8:50 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2010 9:40 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – An Al-Qassam Brigades fighter was killed and ten other Gaza residents were injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes that hit targets across the Strip on Saturday morning.

The Hamas-affiliated military group announced that one of its field leaders, 41-year-old Issa Abdul-Hadi Al-Batran, was killed by one of the strikes near the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Eight others were injured in a second strike targeting the Ansar Security Compound, formerly the presidential compound in Gaza City, which caused massive damages to the buildings and nearby homes, officials said.

The compound was evacuated in two stages, with the majority of personnel taken out in early evening, and a second cohort of 150 moved from the area only 30 minutes before the early morning strike. A skeleton staff had remained in the post.

The injured were treated in the Ash-Shifa Hospital, with director of ambulance and emergency service in Gaza Muawiya Hassanein identifying all as government-employed security officers. The eight sustained moderate to critical wounds and have not been named.

A strike on the Al-Muntada area, where the Ansar compound is located, also hospitalized a young girl and an elderly man, both were evacuated to the Ash-Shifa Hospital where medics said they were being treated for moderate wounds.

A statement from International Solidarity Movement workers in Gaza said "those first at the scene described building debris scattered everywhere and burned out cars still parked on the street."

Witnesses said the incident brought back raw memories of the strikes that kicked off Israel's war on Gaza, which targeted a police graduation ceremony at the primary security headquarters in Gaza City. The first strikes totaled the government buildings, and killed more than 200 young Gaza man who were graduating from the police academy.

Air strikes, artillery fire hits north, south Gaza

Israeli fighter jets also targeted an open area in Deir Al-Balah and several smuggling tunnels in Rafah, in the central and southern areas of the Strip. No injuries were reported from the strikes.

Witnesses said sites were targeted by both air and artillery fire, saying tanks were used in the northern district.

An Israeli military statement said the strikes came in "response to Grad rocket fire," and targeted "terror infrastructure" in Gaza.

The statement said the target near Nuseriat was a weapons-manufacturing warehouse, and described the Rafah strike as targeting a weapons-smuggling tunnel.

The series of strikes, the most destructive in months, came after Israeli officials reported the launch of a Grad rocket from Gaza which landed in the city of Ashkelon. In its statement the military noted that the hit "[caused] property damage" to the city that "has suffered casualties from rocket fire in the past."

No militant group in Gaza has claimed to be behind the firing, though the military statement said the "IDF holds Hamas solely responsible for terror emanating from the Gaza Strip."

Report says military doubts Hamas fired Grad

Israel's daily news site Ynet quoted a military official as saying he did not believe Hamas was behind the launch of a Grad rocket reportedly fired from Gaza on Friday.

"Hamas still wants to maintain the status quo in the Strip," he told the news site. "It continues to grow stronger, but is deterred by the IDF and doesn't want to face a conflict."

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