Sat, Oct 14, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Israeli forces shoot, kill woman in the Gaza Strip

NINE DIE IN TWO DAYS Deaths are mounting in operations that are part of a four-month offensive launched after a soldier from Israel was abducted

AGENCIES , GAZA AND DAMASCUS

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian woman in a Gaza Strip town yesterday where soldiers and militants clashed, residents said.

Palestinian doctors said the woman was shot by an Israeli sniper while she was standing outside her home in southern Gaza.

The Israeli army said Israeli forces in the area identified two gunmen approaching them and opened fire, hitting both of them.

"The soldiers were operating in the area in search of underground tunnels and other security threats," an army spokesman said.

Israel killed eight Palestinians, at least three of them Hamas militants, in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, pressing a nearly four-month offensive launched after a soldier was abducted, witnesses said.

Hamas's armed wing responded by firing six make-shift rockets into Israel. No one was wounded. The rockets were the first fired by Hamas militants in more than a month but other militant groups have kept up such attacks.

Hamas controls the Palestinian government and has rebuffed international pressure to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals.

Six Palestinians were killed in clashes in Gaza and later on Thursday, an Israeli missile fired from an unmanned drone killed two Palestinians including a young girl and wounded more than 10 others in the Shijaia neighborhood in Gaza City, local residents and hospital staff said.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the attack was aimed at a senior militant named Ashraf Ferwana of Hamas' armed wing -- the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades -- but local residents said Ferwana survived, although his brother was killed.

"Our response will be strong and we will hit the enemy everywhere ... The enemy will enjoy neither security nor safety in our land," said Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Izz el-Deen al-Qassam.

Ahmed Youssef, a top political adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, called for a summit in Egypt between Hamas and the once-dominant Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over stalled efforts to form a unity government.

Meanwhile, exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal said his group would not recognize Israel, but it wants to join a national unity government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' rival Fatah faction.

He also said that Hamas was ready to swap captured Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners.

Mashaal's declaration came amid tension between Hamas and Abbas, who has advocated recognizing Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state on parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas has refused, and talks over forming a power-sharing government have stalled.

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