Israeli raid kills ‘global jihad’ militant behind Egypt border attack
An Israeli air strike on southern Gaza on Wednesday killed a "global jihad" militant who put together a deadly ambush on Israel's border with Egypt, the military said.
The strike, which targeted a man on a motorbike in the southern city of Rafah, came as the violence in and around Gaza entered its third day.
So far, seven Palestinians have been killed and another six wounded in Israeli air strikes, while militants have fired more than 60 rockets at Israel, one of which scored a direct hit on a border police outpost, wounding four.
Wednesday's strike which occurred shortly after midday (0900 GMT) killed 21-year-old Ghaleb Ermilat and wounded another person, medics said.
Residents said Ermilat was an activist with the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement.
In a statement, the military said the air force had targeted "a global jihad terror operative involved in the planning and execution of a terror attack on Monday, June 18 against Israeli construction workers on the Israel-Egypt border, in which an Israeli civilian was killed."
During Monday's attack, at least three militants sneaked into southern Israel from Sinai and ambushed two civilian cars carrying Israeli construction workers, killing one and sparking a firefight in which two of the gunmen died.
The third is understood to have fled back to Egypt.
On Tuesday, the border attack was claimed by a previously unknown Islamist group in a video carried by US-based monitoring service, SITE Intelligence.
Made by the "Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem," the clip showed two gunmen standing in front of Al-Qaeda's black flag saying they were poised to carry out an attack against Israel.
One claimed to be from Egypt, while the other said he was from Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, there was no let-up in the violence around Gaza on Wednesday, with at least 15 rockets hitting Israel despite seven overnight air strikes, police said.
Among the sites hit by the air force overnight were a training centre used by Hamas militants and several naval police outposts, Palestinian security sources said.
The raids took place several hours after a rocket hit an Israeli border police outpost in Yad Mordechai, just north of the Gaza Strip, wounding four border policemen, one seriously.
In total, 45 rockets hit Israel on Tuesday, all of which were claimed by the Hamas armed wing in a rare show of force. Previously, the group had been observing a de facto truce on rocket attacks.
As the violence rumbled on, a senior Gaza official said that Egypt was in contact with Israel and the militant groups in a bid to restore the calm.
"The Palestinian factions are ready to return to the calm as long as Israel stops its attacks," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, said he believed that Hamas would "find a way to calm things down and return the quiet in the next two or three days after proving to the other factions that it is capable of acting against Israel."
"Neither Hamas nor Israel has any interest in provoking an escalation in the short term," he told public radio.