GAZA CITY // An Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian brothers in Gaza City yesterday, including an alleged senior militant planning to kidnap Israelis in the Sinai, the army and medical sources said.
"In a joint operation between the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) and the Shin Bet, an attack was carried out against a senior member of the Army of Islam during which Islam Yassin was killed in northern Gaza," the army said.
The attack, which came on the second day of the Muslim Eid al Adha holiday, killed Islam Yassin, 39, and his brother Mohammed, 20, Palestinian medical sources said.
The Israeli military accused Islam Yassin of being "personally involved in planning an attack involving the kidnapping of Israelis in Sinai," across the border in Egypt.
On November 11, Israel's National Security Council warned Israelis visiting the Sinai peninsula to leave at once as it believed they could be targets of an Islamist militant kidnap plot.
In Gaza, emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya confirmed that the Yassin brothers were killed "in an Israeli strike on a car in the Samer area of Gaza City."
The men were critically wounded in the strike, which completely obliterated the back of their car, and were rushed to Gaza City's Shifa hospital where they both died shortly afterwards.
A witness said he saw an Israeli warplane fire at a white car in the city centre.
The attack was the second time this month that Israel has targeted members of the Army of Islam, a radical group.
On November 3, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at another car in Gaza City, killing Mohammed al Nemnem, whom the Israeli military said was a senior member of the group.
The army confirmed the strike, describing Nemnem as a "ticking bomb," in what appeared to signal a return to the army's policy of targeted killings. A month earlier, Israel admitted targeting another militant in an air strike on Gaza City but the man escaped unharmed.
The Army of Islam is considered one of the most radical armed groups in Gaza and took part in the June 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit along with Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees, another small hardline faction. The Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza says it severed ties with the Army of Islam after the group seized BBC reporter Alan Johnston in March 2007. Hamas secured his release nearly four months later after it seized control of Gaza.
Hamas has occasionally clashed with the Army of Islam and other radical groups. In August 2009, Hamas police stormed a Gaza mosque, killing a radical sheikh and 23 of his followers after he declared an Islamic emirate in the impoverished territory and his followers brandished weapons in public.