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Tension Back to Gaza Following Israeli Airstrike, Jihad Vows Revenge

Gaza (Xinhua): The atmosphere of tension was back to the Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike hit the Islamic Jihad movement militants, killing two and injuring three, while the group’s armed wing Saraya al-Quds vowed revenge.

Medics and witnesses said two Islamic Jihad militants, Adham Namrooti, 26, and Sabri Assaleya, 22, were killed and three others were wounded early Sunday morning in an Israeli aerial attack on the northern Gaza Strip.

Gaza emergency spokesman Adham Abu Selmeya confirmed the casualties to reporters, adding that the militants were directly hit by an missile fired from an Israeli war jet.

The militants tried to launch rockets at southern Israel, and an Israeli war jet immediately hit them with a missile, witnesses said.

Saraya al-Quds said in a press statement sent to reporters that they will revenge the deaths and “resistance against the enemy will continue in response to its massacres.”

Palestinians carry a boy into al-Shefa hospital in Gaza City (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

The airstrike was carried out hours after Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip since it seized control of the enclave in June 2007, held a meeting in Gaza with leaders and representatives of several factions and militant groups.

A joint statement issued late Saturday after the meeting said that the factions will be committed to calm with Israel as long as Israel is committed to it. Members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, a main rival of Hamas, didn’t attend the meeting.

Around 14 Palestinians were killed over the past 10 days in a new wave of violence between Israel and Gaza militants, mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The violence erupted after Hamas militants fired dozens of mortar shells at southern Israel to revenge the killing of two of its militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that the Israeli army would strike harshly on militants to protect the security of its citizens.

Following Sunday’s airstrike, Dawood Shihab, a spokesman of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, told Xinhua that his movement will avenge the killings of the militants, adding that “Our movement respects the local and regional efforts to restore calm, but what Israel has done and the escalation of aggression oblige us to respond.”

“Israel is fully responsible for the escalation, just hours after the factions announced that they respect a national agreement over restoring calm with Israel,” Shihab said, confirming that over the past three days there were local and regional efforts exerted to restore calm in Gaza with Israel.

Abbas earlier met with a senior Hamas delegation in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He urged Hamas leaders to restore calm in the Gaza Strip and avoid more violence in order to prevent any future Israeli aggression on the enclave.

Abbas made the request after Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened that Israel won’t stay silent for the ongoing rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. Barak said over 100 rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

Israel launched a three-week military operation coded as Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip in December 2008, after rockets were fired from the enclave at southern Israel. The conflict, which killed around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, was ended after Hamas and Israel reached an undeclared truce following an Egyptian mediation. However, militant groups kept firing rockets from Gaza at southern Israel, where Israel responded in limited airstrikes and quick ground operations.

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