Israeli troops entered central Gaza on Tuesday night and attempted to assassinate Hamas commander Mohammed Deif who was seriously wounded in the Israeli air strike.
As the fighting escalated, Israel destroyed a three-story house believed to be a terrorist meeting place. Six Palestinians were killed, including a woman and two children and another 15 were wounded in the attack.
Israel also fired missiles at the vehicle of the Hamas commander of the northern Gaza Strip, Ahmed Gandor, in which the car exploded but he escaped.
Both Deif and Gandor are terrorists suspected of having direct involvement in the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Senior political sources in Jerusalem fear that the attempted assassination in Gaza might endanger the life of Shalit. Considering that targeting Deif could harm chances for Shalit’s release, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz decided to go ahead with the air strike.
In response to the attack, Hamas threatened that there will be “an action of painful retaliation that will shake the streets of Israel,” and marked the house bombing as a “turning point.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on the Israeli military to stop their attacks and to begin negotiations for the soldier’s release. Olmert reaffirmed his position that Israel will not negotiate for Shalit’s release.
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