20 Dec 2008

Israeli airstrike kills Palestinian

10:07 pm on 20 December 2008

An Israeli air strike has killed a Palestinian militant in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, a day after the end of a six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

An Israeli military official said the air strike targeted a group of militants firing rockets towards Israel.

Palestinian medics said one man was killed and another wounded when a missile exploded in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

The attack came hours after two rockets fired from Gaza landed in Israel, causing no damage or injuries, the army said.

Hamas - the movement which controls Gaza - declared the end of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the Jewish state in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, raising the prospect of an escalation in cross-border fighting.

Armed Islamist factions in Gaza went on alert on Friday and warned Israel not to attack the coastal enclave.

Under the truce, brokered by Egypt in June, Palestinian militants would halt rocket fire in return for Israel gradually easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow in more aid.

But the ceasefire has been eroded almost daily since early November, after a deadly Israeli army raid into Gaza prompted showers of largely ineffective rockets into Israel.

Egypt said on Friday it had not been asked to repair the truce.