An Israeli air strike has killed a Palestinian man and wounded another in the Gaza Strip, medics said, in what appeared to be the first such attack since a ceasefire ended an eight-day war last November.
Israel confirmed Tuesday’s attack, saying it targeted a fighter involved in a rocket attack on its Red Sea resort of Eilat on April 17.
“A man in his 20s was martyred and another injured in an Israeli air strike… in Shati refugee camp in western Gaza City,” Ashraf al-Qudra, Gaza health ministry spokesman, said.
The aircraft hit a motorcycle as it was travelling northwest of Gaza City, killing the driver and wounding a passenger.
A bystander was also wounded, according to Gaza medical officials.
Witnesses named the victim as a 23-year-old member of an armed group, Haitham al-Meshal.
The air raid came just two days after Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, warned of a strong military response to sporadic rocket fire into Israel.
“A global jihad-affiliated terrorist has been targeted by an IAF [Israeli Air Force] aircraft in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire towards Israel,” the military said.
“On April 17, Meshal was involved in the [Mujahedeen] Shura Council organisation’s firing rockets at Eilat,” it added, without giving further details.
Hamas, the group that rules Gaza, condemned the Israeli attack but also signalled that it is eager to preserve the truce.
“We call on Egypt to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to stop these crimes and to force them to honour the truce and stop the aggression,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
He called for a “joint and unified” effort by Gaza’s various armed factions.
Later on Tuesday, Palestinian medics said a Palestinian was wounded as Israeli drones fired a rocket at a military training camp in Rafah city, in the south of the Gaza Strip.
West Bank Stabbing
Meanwhile, an Israeli settler was killed by a Palestinian in a stabbing attack at a bus stop in the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli police said.
“The Palestinian suspect stabbed an Israeli sitting at a bus stop. He died,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the AFP news agency on Tuesday, adding that the incident took place near Tappuach junction, which lies south of the city of Nablus.
Israeli border police shot at the alleged attacker, who grabbed his victim’s weapon and returned fire but was eventually disarmed and taken into custody, she said.
“He grabbed the [victim’s] weapon and fired towards the border police force that was in the area. They fired back and neutralised him,” she said.
The Palestinian, a resident of the northern town of Tulkarem, was injured and evacuated to an Israeli hospital, she added. The Israeli army said in a statement that the attacker was “neutralised,” without elaborating.
The victim, a man in his 20s, lived in a settlement in the northern West Bank, Samri said, without saying which.
Shortly after the stabbing, Israeli settlers in the area began throwing stones at Palestinians, injuring at least two people. Israeli media also reported that settlers had set fire to Palestinian agricultural land, and were preventing emergency crews from putting out the fires.
The Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet, has said that during 2012 no Israelis were killed in the West Bank. In March 2011 two settlers and three of their young children were stabbed to death in their home.
Nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year in various incidents, mainly in clashes that have risen sharply in recent months.
(Agencies and AlJazeera.com)