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Israeli Strike Kills Hamas Commander


One Palestinian has been killed and at least 11 wounded in a wave of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip late Friday and early Saturday.

Ambulances raced through the streets of Gaza as Israeli warplanes bombed five targets. The ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas said missiles hit a military training camp in Gaza City and smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

One missile hit a shack, killing Issa Batran, a senior Hamas commander and rocket maker. He had survived several previous Israeli attempts to assassinate him.

Hamas promised revenge. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the air strikes were the result of a decision by the Arab League on Thursday approving peace talks with Israel.

Abu Zuhri said the decision "provides a cover for the continuing crimes of the occupation."

The Arab states endorsed the idea of restarting direct negotiations with Israel, but left the timing up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has laid down several conditions.

The Israeli military said the air strikes were retaliation for a Palestinian rocket attack Friday on Ashkelon, an Israeli coastal city about 12 kilometers from Gaza. The powerful Chinese-made rocket landed in a residential area, causing damage but no injuries.

Rocket attacks have been rare since Israel's three-week air and ground assault on Gaza a year and a half ago. But with Hamas vowing revenge and Israel promising to retaliate for every attack, there is a danger of a new round of violence.

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