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Israeli airstrike on motorcycle injures 2 men in central Gaza Strip

Feb. 9, 2014 10:02 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2014 1:59 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes targeted a motorcycle in the central Gaza Strip early Sunday, injuring two young Palestinian men, a medical official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza's Ministry of Health, told Ma'an that two Palestinian men were taken to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital after an Israeli military aircraft fired a missile at their motorcycle in Deir al-Balah.

Medics said one of the victims was critically wounded and the other sustained moderate injuries.

An Israeli army statement identified the target of the strike as Abdullah Kharti, who was described as a "key Popular Resistance Committees operative" involved with "numerous incidents of rocket fire towards Israel."

The statement added that Israeli forces had "operated in order to eliminate an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli civilians," without further detail.

The Popular Resistance Committees is a Gaza-based militant group that opposes negotiations with Israel.

Recent weeks have witnessed an increase in tensions on the Gaza Strip, as Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian protests near the border and launched a number of airstrikes.

Israeli forces killed six Palestinians and injured 41 in attacks on Gaza in January, al-Qidra said in early February.

Palestinian militants, meanwhile, have fired dozens of rockets toward Israel, all of which have all landed in unpopulated areas with no injuries reported.

The Gaza Strip government is under Hamas control. While Hamas itself does not routinely fire rockets, Israel says it holds the group, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, responsible for such attacks.

Hamas and Israel have maintained a fragile ceasefire since November 2012, when Israeli forces launched a major assault that killed around 170 Palestinians.
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