Israel kills Gaza rocket commander in air strike

GAZA Wed Mar 4, 2009 4:02pm EST

1 of 2. A Palestinian uses a hose to clean the scene of an Israeli missile strike in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip March 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem

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GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli war planes killed an Islamic Jihad field commander in a missile strike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Palestinian faction and medical officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed it had targeted Khaled Shalan, saying he had been involved in recent rocket attacks from Gaza.

Another Islamic Jihad member was wounded in the trike in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, medical officials said.

Israel and Palestinian militants have traded sporadic fire across Gaza's border, challenging Egyptian efforts to consolidate a January 18 truce in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israel invaded Gaza in January and has generally responded to Palestinian rocket salvoes since then with air strikes on suspected smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier.

Wednesday's air strike could signal a resumption of targeted strikes by Israel against militant leaders.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas, said Shalan had overseen its rocket launches and other attacks on Israel from northern Gaza.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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