Israeli air strike kills Gaza gunman on motorbike

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli aircraft killed a Palestinian gunman and wounded another as they rode a motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, medical officials said.

Israel’s military confirmed carrying out dawn strike, saying it targeted Palestinians who had launched a short-range rocket across the border on Tuesday. No one was hurt in that attack, which followed a surge in fighting around Gaza this month.

Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian faction that has played a leading role in the violence and is an occasional ally of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, claimed the dead man and his comrade as their own.

They had been driving to mosque prayers when they were struck on the road from Khan Younis to Rafah in south Gaza, Islamic Jihad said.

Hours after the air strike, a small al Qaeda-linked group in Gaza, Tawheed And Jihad, issued a statement saying that it had carried out Tuesday’s rocket attack.

With Israel threatening a wider assault on Gaza in response to the recent rocket salvos, Hamas on Saturday offered a truce. But exchanges of fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad have persisted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel’s air force bombed a smuggling tunnel used by Palestinians to circumvent a blockade on Gaza’s border with Egypt, witnesses said.

(Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Israeli air strike kills Gaza gunman on motorbike