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Ministry: 2 killed by Israeli air raids

June 23, 2012 11:58 P.M. (Updated: June 25, 2012 9:53 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A four-year-old boy and a Gaza militant were killed on Saturday as Israeli forces targeted areas in southern and northern Gaza, medical officials said.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said Ali Muatazz al-Shawwaf, 4, was killed and three others injured, one seriously, by an Israeli air strike in the Abasan neighborhood east of Khan Younis.

A militant affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committee was also killed in an airstrike east of Jabalia, northern Gaza, al-Qidra said. The casualty was identified as Khalid al-Burei, 25.

Meanwhile, three people were wounded in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, when Israeli forces opened fire at farmers tending their land, witnesses said.

Explosions were also reported in Gaza City and Rafah, witnesses said. Hamas medical officials said a baby was wounded in an attack in Rafah, at the Egypt border.

Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, denied any Israeli involvement in al-Shawwaf's death, saying on Twitter that the report was the result of "false rumors" and that the boy had died due to an explosion of ordnance belonging to Palestinian militants.

Another Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no report of any air strikes in Rafah, where the baby was reported to have been hurt. A military statement said the strike that killed al-Burei "targeted a terrorist in the northern Gaza Strip, during final preparations to fire a rocket at Israel," confirming a direct hit.

Earlier Saturday, Israel launched air strikes against three Hamas security targets in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least 17 people, Hamas medical officials said.

An Israeli man was injured in Sderot early Saturday after a rocket hit the town as he was trying to enter a concrete shelter, Israeli officials said.

The rocket was one of 50 fired into Israel, the military said. Six other rockets were intercepted by an Israeli missile defense system.

The PFLP's military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed responsibility for two rockets fired at southern Israel on Saturday.

Airstrikes on Friday, which Israel's army said were in response to rocket fire from militants, brought the Gaza death toll to 10 people since hostilities began.

Israel killed eight Palestinians over three days of heavy shelling that ended Wednesday night as Hamas' military wing signed up to a truce mediated by Egypt.

Hamas militants had conditionally pledged to adhere to a truce brokered by Egypt on Wednesday, if Israel also withheld fire. Israel never formally commented on the deal but its officials have vowed to respond to any rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel said Gaza militants had also fired more than 130 rockets at Israel since Monday, causing no casualties, but disrupting life in an area where a million Israelis live and where civilians have been urged to remain near shelters.

Reuters contributed to this report
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