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Medics: 1 dead in strike on south Gaza

Aug. 24, 2011 1:10 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 25, 2011 10:39 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli aircraft opened fire on the southern Gaza Strip late Tuesday killing a member of Islamic Jihad's military wing, medical and security officials said.

The strike in the Tal As-Sultan area killed Ismail Al-Asmar, a field commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, and injured one other person, said Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmiya.

Both were taken to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital, medics said.

Israel's army confirmed in a statement that it targeted al-Asmar, who "was involved in smuggling weapons and sought the execution of terrorist activity in Sinai. A direct hit was confirmed."

The Islamic Jihad field commander "operated with terror elements in the Gaza strip which have recently made several attempts to execute terror attacks in Sinai, on the Israel-Egypt border," the army said.

The strike came as an Egyptian-brokered halt to Palestinian rocket fire appeared to be holding, with the Israeli military saying that calm had prevailed along the border overnight.

Although four rockets were fired into southern Israel in the following hours of the agreement, Israel did not respond, with the press assessing it was unlikely to harm the truce.

"There has been nothing today, compared to 11 yesterday," an Israeli military spokesman said Tuesday, referring to the number of rockets and mortar rounds fired a day earlier.

"So far the truce has largely held," Haaretz newspaper said, referring to a "temporary" ceasefire that was announced late Sunday by a senior official in Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

The truce was announced Sunday evening following four days of violence sparked by a series of shooting ambushes near Eilat in southern Israel on Thursday in which eight Israelis died.

Israeli airstrikes have killed 15 Palestinians, 12 of whom have been identified as militants, and more than 50 people were wounded since Thursday. Among those killed was PRC chief Kamal al-Nayrab.

During this time Palestinians fired more than 100 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli towns and cities in the south, killing one man and injuring more than 20, one critically.

AFP contributed to this report.

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