Late on Tuesday, 18-year-old Kamil al-Astal was shot dead by Israeli snipers close to the illegal Jewish settlement of Kissufum, just north of the town of Khan Yunis, Palestinian medical sources said.

Earlier in the day, armoured Israeli bulldozers razed swathes of farmland in the same area, known as al-Qarara, belonging to the Abadla and Astal families, witnesses told Aljazeera.net.

An Israeli army spokesperson said al-Astal belong to the Islamic Jihad and was planting a bomb when he was killed, but added that the report could not be verfied.

Random fire

Palestinian security sources charged Israeli forces stationed east of Khan Yunis with firing heavy artillery haphazardly at residents of the area, leading to several injuries.

One of them, 19-year-old Muhammad Abd al-Al, is said to be in critical condition.

Also in Gaza, Israeli troops, backed by armoured bulldozers, tanks and Apache helicopters, raided the al-Mughraqa area, south of Gaza city.

Eight residents, including a 70-year-old man, were detained in the raid, witnesses told Aljazeera.net. The Israeli Army has given no explanation for the detentions.

Assassination attempt

The Gaza attacks occurred against the backdrop of a failed assassination attempt on Tariq Abu Rajab, deputy head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.

A car carrying Palestinian official
Tariq Abu Rajab was attacked

The Palestinian official was moderately wounded when his convoy came under attack from a group of unidentified armed fighters as it passed by the Shatti refugee camp in northwest Gaza.

However, one of his security guards was killed and another injured, sources told Aljazeera.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

In recent months, the Gaza Strip has witnessed growing unrest in the form of kidnappings, vandalism and violent attacks allegedly carried out by fighters loyal to Yasir Arafat's Fatah movemement apparently to vent their frustration with the current state of affairs in the Occupied Territories.