Israeli airstrikes in Gaza kill at least 13 Palestinians

The attacks, which come amid rising tensions, targeted Islamic Jihad militants.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

At least 13 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, intensifying tensions that many analysts say may presage a larger-scale Israeli ground offensive in Gaza.

The strikes targeted Islamic Jihad, which has stepped up its launches of low-grade Qassam rockets into Israel in recent weeks. One of those killed was Majid el-Harazin, a commander of Islamic Jihad's military arm, in Gaza City Monday evening. Later, Israeli strikes killed Karim Dahduh, who Israel says led rocket production for Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad threatened to respond with suicide bombings inside Israel, which have come to a virtual halt over the past year.

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"I think it's simply a coincidence that we had a few successes with the right intelligence," says Efraim Inbar, of Bar-Ilan University. "But there is a gradual escalation on both sides. "

A senior Israeli official said Monday that Israel did not want a major invasion in Gaza. But others, Mr. Inbar says, are starting to see it as unavoidable. "We just cannot take anymore of these types of attacks," he says.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, charges that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sold "the souls of our Palestinian fighters with millions of dollars in Paris," says Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.

"These massacres ...have revealed ... the real face of the Israeli enemy's occupation," he says. "The real purpose behind Paris is that they give Abbas money and allow the Israeli enemy to commit his crimes freely.... There will be an escalation in resistance...."

Safwat al-Kahlout in Gaza contributed.

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