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Israel kills Palestinian in Gaza airstrike, blames Abbas for rockets

June 12, 2014 12:06 A.M. (Updated: June 18, 2014 10:54 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- An Israeli airstrike killed a Palestinian in Gaza on Wednesday after new rocket fire from the territory prompted Israel's premier to warn he holds President Mahmoud Abbas responsible.

Two Palestinians were also wounded in the evening raid in the northern Gaza Strip, the emergency services said.

The dead man and one of the wounded were traveling on a motorbike and were the apparent targets. A young boy, who was passing by on foot, was also wounded.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza's health ministry, identified the victim as Muhammad Ahmad al-Awour, 30.

The An-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said that al-Awour was affiliated to the group.

The Israeli military said it had targeted "terrorists affiliated to the international jihad," its designation for Al-Qaeda inspired groups in Gaza.

The victim's mother told Ma'an that when the Israeli missile targeted Muhammad, he was on his way to bring her food. She highlighted that he asked her and his wife a day before to invite his aunts and married sisters to a dinner at his home in Beit Lahiya.

"All invitees arrived, but the host hasn't arrived because Israeli occupation's warplanes surprised him while he was on his way home," she said.

"Muhammad wasn't going to launch missiles at them. We had a kind of family gathering, and he went to bring some food for us, but he never came back, and we received the news of his martyrdom."

Abbas, who swore in a new merged government for the Palestinian territories last week replacing the Hamas administration in Gaza, condemned the rocket fire, which Israeli officials said hit the Eshkol region without causing any casualties or damage.

"Abbas is responsible and accountable for rockets that are fired at Israeli towns and cities by terrorists in the Gaza Strip," Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote on Twitter.

Another Netanyahu spokesmen released a statement demanding that Abbas disarm "terrorist" organizations in Gaza.

"Abbas claims that the new Palestinian government honors all previous commitments. So why has he not disarmed the terrorist organizations in Gaza as he is obligated to do," Mark Regev asked.

Israel had previously held Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza, regardless of who carried it out.

The Palestinian president's bureau denounced the airstrike and urged the Israeli government to stop its escalation in Gaza immediately.

"We hold the Israeli government responsible for this escalation which we view as an attempt to create tension and drag the area into violence," a statement released by Abbas' office said.

An Israeli blockade on Gaza has been in place since 2006, limiting imports and exports and leading to major economic decline and a wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

Israel has killed over 60 Palestinians since last July and injured more than a thousand in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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