|An Israeli air strike has left two Palestinians dead and another two wounded in Gaza [Reuters]|
An Israeli air strike on a car killed two fighters and wounded two other men on a crowded Gaza street, the Israeli army and local medical officials said.
The men were identified as Issam Al-Batish and Sobhi Al-Batish, relatives initially identified as brothers.
Hundreds of Palestininans crowded around the charred remains of the car, which was hit in the bright afternoon sunshine on a main urban thoroughfare.
Local reports indicate that an Israeli drone fired a rocket at the car.
In Tel Aviv, an Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed an air strike had been carried out.
She said the two men killed in the incident had been planning an attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers along Israel’s border with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
“(They) were affiliated with a terrorist squad that intended to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers via the western
border,” an army statement said.
A Hamas spokesman described the Israeli air strike as a crime and accused Israel of ratcheting up violence in the area. “We hold the government of the Zionist occupation (Israel) fully responsible for this crime and for the new escalation,” spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
The Israel army statement added that Issam had been involved in planning a suicide bombing in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat in 2007 in which three Israeli civilians were killed, and a number of other attacks, some of which had been topped.
Issam was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Abbas’s Fatah movement, group officials said.
Hamas said Sobhi was affiliated with its own armed wing.
Hours later, Gaza fighters fired several rockets into Israel, some striking near the city of Beersheba, Israeli police said.
No one was wounded in the attacks.
Violence between Israel and Gaza fighters has abated slightly recently, although on Wednesday Israeli troops killed one Islamic Jihad gunman and wounded another in a rare cross-border incursion, witnesses and hospital officials said.
Islamic Jihad is at times allied with Gaza’s Hamas rulers but the group has chafed at recent efforts by the more powerful
faction to impose de facto truces across the coastal territory.
Hamas and Israel carried out an Egyptian- and German-brokered prisoner swap in mid-October.