An Israeli air force helicopter has fired missiles at a van in the Gaza Strip, killing two members of the militant Islamic group Hamas. At least nine bystanders were also injured in the raid, as Israel stepped up its military operations in retaliation for a recent Hamas suicide bombing that killed 20 Israelis.
Palestinian doctors identified the victims as senior members of the military wing of Hamas, a group that frequently carries out suicide bombings. The occupants had been traveling in a van on a busy road in central Gaza when they were targeted by Israeli helicopters.
Firefighters and rescue workers evacuated wounded from the burning wreckage of the vehicle. Flames engulfed the van as angry crowds gathered round, yelling "God is great!"
The operation was the fifth of its kind in the past 10 days in which several Hamas members have been killed. Three Apache helicopters, accompanied by F-16 fighter jets, were seen flying over the Gaza Strip Saturday during the latest strike.
Israel has marked Hamas members in the aftermath of a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem on August 19 that killed 20 Israelis. On Thursday, an Israeli helicopter fired at least one missile into Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, killing another member of the Hamas military wing.
Hamas has responded with mortar and rocket attacks at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and at targets inside Israel.
Israel on Friday sent bulldozers and tanks into the Beit Hanoun area of the northern Gaza Strip to uproot swathes of farmland that the military says was being used as cover for the launching of homemade Kassam rockets.