Interior Ministry, Fatah offices in Gaza hit by Israeli airstrikes

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Friday, June 30, 2006

The Israeli Defence Forces have carried out 5 to 8 air strikes targeting the office of the Palestinian interior ministry's headquarters occupied by the governing party Hamas in Gaza and an office of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party in Gaza, Palestinian and Israeli sources say.

Israel claims its ongoing Operation Summer Rains, which began early on June 28, is in response to the capture of Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants.

There were mixed reports of casualties from the air strike, although one source said a member of Islamic Jihad had been killed in the air strikes. Television images showed emergency crews responded to the attacks.

The Israeli military said the ministry office, controlled by Hamas, was "a meeting place to plan and direct terror activity." In addition, an Israeli official stated to the Associated Press that the attacks will only end when the captured Israeli soldier is unconditionally freed.

Days after the initial raid reports from Israeli officials stated that they had found the body of 18-year-old Eliyahu Yitzhak Asheri who was kidnapped by the Palestinian ruling party, Hamas, and shot in the back of the head on Sunday.

In his first appearance since the raid began, Palestinian PM and leader of the Hamas organization, Ismail Haniya denounced the raid saying it was a "premeditated plan" to bring down the new Hamas government. He accused Israel of hiding behind Cpl. Shalit to carry a "systemic campaign" against Hamas.

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