Israel has assassinated a top Palestinian militant in the Gaza Strip. The attack came hours after a Palestinian security chief was wounded in a Gaza bombing, apparently carried out by a rival Palestinian faction.
Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a car in Gaza City, killing Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Dadouh. Palestinian officials say a woman, her five-year-old son and the child's grandmother were also killed. They were traveling in a taxi behind the targeted vehicle.
The 40-year-old Dadouh is described as the top Islamic Jihad military commander in Gaza. The army said he was responsible for rocket attacks on Israeli border communities.
Israel vowed to target and kill Islamic Jihad leaders a month ago, after the group carried out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed 11 people. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev told VOA "unfortunately, there are other plans to do similar atrocities. I think, it's incumbent upon us, upon the government of Israel, to act proactively to prevent them murdering Israelis."
Islamic Jihad is promising revenge.
The Israeli air strike came hours after Palestinian intelligence chief Tareq Abu Rajab was wounded in a bomb explosion at his Gaza headquarters. The incident further heightened tensions between the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and the more moderate Fatah party, led by President Mahmoud Abbas. Rajab is loyal to Mr. Abbas, and Fatah members blamed Hamas for what they described as an assassination attempt.
Hamas says it was not involved, but Mr. Abbas demanded an investigation.
He said the attack was "unfortunate" and posed a "grave danger" to the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas and Fatah gunmen have clashed frequently over the past two weeks, in a deepening power struggle over control of the security forces. The unprecedented internal strife has raised fears of a Palestinian civil war.