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Israel Says It Will Target Hamas Leaders

21 May 2007

Israel confirms that it is targeting the leaders of the Islamic militant group Hamas, hours after a deadly attack on the home of one of its lawmakers in the Gaza Strip. At least 12 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes during the past 24 hours. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Hamas is threatening harsh retaliation.

Israel says both the political and military leaders of Hamas will be targeted because militants in Gaza fired more than 130 rockets across the border since Wednesday.

Cabinet Minister Gideon Ezra told Israel Radio that Hamas political leaders are inciting the Palestinian public and giving the orders to attack the Jewish state. Therefore, he said, they are legitimate targets.

Ezra made the comments hours after an Israeli aircraft fired a missile that hit the home of a Hamas lawmaker. He was not there, but Palestinians say eight people were killed, including several of his relatives and two militants. The army said it was targeting a group of five Hamas gunmen near the house.

Hamas was outraged by the air strike and promised revenge. The Hamas military wing called for a renewal of suicide bombings in Israeli cities.

A Hamas leader in Gaza, Nizar Iyan, said the group will fight until the last Jew is expelled from Israel.

Iyan told Hamas Television that Israel must be wiped off the map and replaced with a Palestinian state.

So the threats and the fighting continue. In another air strike, Israel targeted a car carrying Islamic Jihad militants, killing four of them. And more rockets have been falling on the Israeli side of the border.

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