Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip

20 October 2003
At least three people were killed in two attacks by Israeli planes and helicopters in the Gaza Strip on 20 October. In the first raid a fighter jet bombed what Israel claimed was a Hamas weapons factory. However, Palestinians claim that the attack was an assassination attempt against senior Islamic Jihad member Sheikh Abdullah Shami, who was not injured in the incident. 'I want to thank God for the survival of Shami, and I assure you that he is OK,' said Islamic Jihad spokesman Khaled Batch. According to Batch, 12 people were injured in the raid.

In a second attack on the same day, helicopters fired two missiles on a truck as it passed through central Gaza. Two men travelling in the vehicle, both thought to be members of Hamas' military wing, and a passer-by were killed in the raid.

The violence on 20 October follows days of clashes in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) killed four Palestinians, including Tareq Abu al-Hussein, a senior Hamas member, in raids near Rafah on 18 October. In the West Bank one boy was killed and at least five others injured in a confrontation between the IDF and Palestinian youths.

The Israeli attacks are believed to be a reaction to the deaths of three Israeli soldiers shot by Palestinian militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade on 19 October. The group said they had attacked the soldiers 'in response to the Zionist massacres against our people'.

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