Israeli air strikes in Gaza kills three militants, hours after US Secretary of State ends her first Middle East trip.
Gaza air strikes kill three militants
Israeli air raids on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip killed three militants just hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended her first Middle East trip vowing to breathe life into the peace process. An air strike in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza early today killed two militants and wounded three others, medics said. An army spokesman said the raid targeted a group who had fired an anti-tank shell at an army unit on the Israeli side of the border. Late yesterday, an Israeli air raid killed a senior Islamic Jihad military commander as he drove through the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City. The group vowed to avenge his death and today militants fired three rockets into Israel. None caused casualties but Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing the projectiles. It was the latest blow to the tenuous ceasefire Hamas and Israel declared on Jan 18 to end Israel's 22-day war on the tiny coastal strip. Egypt has been brokering talks to turn the ceasefires into a durable truce. The violence erupted just hours after Mrs Clinton left Israel yesterday having completed her first official trip in which she vowed to press on with peace efforts. "The United States aims to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realised," she said after talks with the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the occupied West Bank. "Time is of the essence." She called for Israel to allow more aid into Gaza, which was devastated by the war that Israel launched on Dec 27 in response to rocket fire and that ended up killing more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Prior to the war, Gaza was already reeling as Israel had sealed the impoverished territory to all but humanitarian goods in June 2007 when Hamas seized power in the enclave booting out forces loyal to moderate Abbas. "We have obviously expressed concerns about the border crossings. We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza," she said. Gaza is one of the world's most densely-populated places. More than half of the 1.5 million population is under 18 and the vast majority of residents depend on foreign aid. Mrs Clinton slammed Israel's plans to rase houses in east Jerusalem that were built without building permits, notoriously difficult to obtain for the city's Palestinian residents. "Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the road map," Mrs Clinton said, referring to a blueprint for peace talks adopted by the international community in 2003. * AFP