13 Palestinian Militants Killed in Israeli Air Strikes

Robert Berger

Thirteen Palestinian militants have been killed in a wave of Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip. Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the military will continue to target the heads of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza that fire rockets into southern Israel. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, militant groups are promising revenge.

Israeli aircraft launched three strikes on Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza with pinpoint accuracy. Missiles blasted two cars carrying militants and later, three more were killed as they emerged from morning prayers at a mosque.

Among the dead was top Islamic Jihad commander Majed Harazin, who was in charge of rocket squads that have been launching daily attacks on Israeli border communities. A master rocket maker was also killed.

Islamic Jihad promised revenge, and vowed to renew suicide bombings in Israeli cities. That has the backing of the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan told Palestinian radio that all factions should retaliate. He said Israel must bear the consequences of its actions.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said no one who attacks Israel will be immune.

"They will pay a price if there is continued missile attacks on the Israeli civilian population," he said.

Israel has faced increasing rocket attacks since Hamas seized control of Gaza six months ago, routing the forces of the rival Fatah faction, led by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He now heads a more moderate government in the West Bank, which agreed to resume peace talks with Israel at last month's Annapolis conference in the United States.

While Israel and the international community have imposed crippling sanctions on Hamas in Gaza, they are working to strengthen the Abbas government in the West Bank. On Monday, Mr. Abbas received pledges of more than $7 billion in aid at an international donors' conference in Paris.

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