Israel says it killed senior jihadist in Gaza strike
Israel said its warplanes killed a senior jihadist militant in Gaza on Friday, two days after saying it was weighing a wider campaign there to curb rising rocket attacks.
Israel's military identified the man killed as a "senior operative in the global jihad movement" who was involved in planning an attack from Egypt.
Palestinians said that Moamen abu-Daff, known locally as a fundamentalist Islamic Salafi militant, was killed in a raid east of Gaza City that also wounded another man. They did not link the dead man to a specific group.
There were no banners or flags at his funeral later on Friday and no political speeches were made or slogans chanted by the group of about 100 mourners, although the men present wore the full beards typical of Salafists.
The Israeli military said the strike targetted a group of men preparing to fire a rocket into Israel. Palestinian eyewitness said they saw militants in the area immediately before the strike.
"Aircraft targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was confirmed, thwarting the rocket fire attempt," a military statement said.
"The aforementioned squad is responsible for the firing of rockets at Israel in the past number of days," it added.
Israeli military sources said on condition of anonymity that Abu-Daff "was actively involved in the preparations of the attempted terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border that was thwarted this week."
On Tuesday Israeli warplanes struck twice at what the military called "global jihad" targets in Gaza, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding 10, Palestinian officials said.
Israel said at the time that both targets were hardline followers of the global jihadist movement, planning cross-border attacks from neighbouring Egypt.
In August, gunmen infiltrated southern Israel from Sinai and carried out a coordinated series of ambushes on buses and cars on a road along the Egyptian border some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat.
The attacks took place over several hours, leaving eight dead and more than 25 wounded.
On December 8, shortly after Israeli troops went on high alert along the border over fears a fresh squad of gunmen had crossed over, Israeli aircraft killed two men in Gaza City that the military said had been planning another raid from Sinai, which also borders Gaza.
Palestinian militants fired two rockets at southern Israel on Thursday, after Israeli warplanes attacked "terror sites" inside the Gaza Strip, the army said. There were no casualties.
Earlier, Israeli warplanes targeted "terror sites" in central and northern Gaza after five rockets were fired into Israel on Wednesday.
"Israeli air force aircraft targeted a terror activity site in the central Gaza Strip, and a terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip," a military statement said.
Palestinian security sources said the air strikes hit a training ground used by Islamic Jihad militants near central Gaza and another, northeast of Gaza which belonged to Hamas's armed wing, causing no casualties.
On Wednesday, a senior Israeli officer said the military was preparing for a possible large-scale military campaign in Gaza if the Palestinians did not halt their rocket attacks.
"We are preparing and ready for an additional campaign... to renew the deterrence," Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza division's southern brigade, told reporters in remarks widely published in the Israeli press.
Israel's last major operation against Gaza was Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day offensive launched on December 27, 2008 that cost the lives of 1,400 Palestinians -- at least half of them civilians -- and 13 Israelis, including 10 soldiers.