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Israeli: Air Strike Kills Senior Palestinian Militant

07 December 2005

A senior Palestinian militant has been killed in an Israel air strike in the Gaza Strip and ten other people are wounded.

An Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a car carrying Palestinian militants in Gaza, turning the vehicle into a ball of fire. Mahmoud Arkan, a senior field commander for a radical group called the Popular Resistance Committees, was killed.

Israel decided to resume its controversial policy of assassinating militant leaders after five Israelis were killed in a suicide bombing at a mall in the coastal town of Netanya on Monday.

Israel said Mr. Arkan was responsible for several deadly attacks on Israelis and planning more. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

"The people we are targeting are only people who are involved, hands on, in terrorist attacks, people who are on the way to either send suicide bombers or to fire rockets into Israeli communities," he explained.

Mr. Regev told VOA that it is not retaliation, but rather, self-defense.

"Our actions are defensive in that they're designed only to prevent terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens," he added.

Palestinian officials condemned the suicide bombing but they say assassinations only add fuel to the fire. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat appealed to both sides to uphold the 10-month-old ceasefire.

"We must maintain the cessation of violence, we must maintain the quiet, and I hope the Palestinians will not react in the chain of reaction, action or action reaction," he added.

Israel is promising more assassinations and Palestinian militants promise revenge.

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