Airstrikes injure 2 in southern Gaza 26Feb11 February 27, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  26 February 2011

Israeli F16 fighter jets launched two fresh airstrikes on targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon leaving at least two Palestinians injured.

The first hit an open space between Rafah and Khan Younis, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said two people were injured, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Two more airstrikes came minutes after the first targeted two security sites belonging to the Hamas-run government in Rafah, which is near the Egyptian border.

A family of four, including an 18-month-old girl, were lightly wounded, after their vehicle was hit by shrapnel as they were driving by one of the targets, Abu Selmiya told AFP.

A third air strike hit an Islamic Jihad facility west of Khan Younis, witnesses said.

The raids came after pre-dawn strikes against two other training camps of the hardline Islamic Jihad group.

Several missiles hit an Islamic Jihad military base in Khan Younis. Islamic Jihad has refused to observe a calm in attacks against Israel agreed by Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other groups.

The military had no immediate comment on the afternoon strikes, but said the earlier attacks “targeted a number of terror hubs… in response to recent rocket fire into Israel.”

Separately, Israeli forces shot and injured a man in the north while he was collecting gravel for construction.

The air raids came after tensions rose along the Israel-Gaza border this week following clashes and a rocket attack on the Israeli city of Beersheba that hit a house but caused no casualties.

It was the first rocket to strike the city since the devastating offensive Israel waged against Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 and prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn the territory’s militants.

Commenting on recent rocket attacks, Israeli security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said, “We cannot ignore the firing of rockets on the residents of Israel. We must stop these attacks.

“There is an attempt to give it some sort of legitimization of attack – response. The response should be much more painful. The firing of Grad rockets on Beersheba or other cities crosses the red line,” he noted.

“State and the IDF must respond with a heavy hand. I will also demand this from the government. No country in the world would have allowed Grad rockets to fall on its residents,” Aharonovitch noted.

The latest attack marked the second series of airstrikes in 24 hours, after warplanes struck several targets in the southern and central Gaza Strip early Saturday. No injuries were reported.

Israeli warplanes also fired at an open area in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

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