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Israeli airstrike hits Islamic Jihad

Jewish settlers demonstrate after struggle at West Bank outpost

Emergency crews respond Sunday to the scene of an airstrike in Gaza.


Islamic Jihad
West Bank

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- An Israeli airstrike Sunday killed an Islamic Jihad field commander and a man in charge of making rockets for the organization, Islamic Jihad sources said.

The attack injured five others, two critically, the sources said.

Palestinian sources identified those killed as Khaled Dado, the commander of Islamic Jihad's forces in Gaza, and Adnan Bustan, who made rockets.

Israel Defense Forces confirmed they attacked two vehicles in north Gaza and said the vehicles were carrying Islamic Jihad members who had been involved in firing rockets toward Israel.

Israeli security forces confirmed the death of Bustan, 28, saying he was in charge of rockets and transferred them to militant groups for firing at Israeli towns.

Islamic Jihad has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis and is listed as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.

Both Islamic Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have threatened to retaliate for the attack.

On Saturday, Israeli military aircraft targeted an al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades site near Gaza City, a day after a rocket attack on an Israeli kibbutz wounded a family of four, including a 7-month-old baby.

The Israeli army said one militant was killed in the operation Saturday. Palestinian security sources said the Israeli aircraft hit a car carrying al Aqsa militants, killing three people and wounding five others.

Al Aqsa is a military offshoot of the Fatah movement founded by Yasser Arafat in 1965. The U.S. State Department considers the secular, nationalist Al Aqsa movement a terrorist organization.

Fatah suffered a surprise loss in January 25 elections that gave the radical Palestinian group Hamas a majority in the Palestinian parliament.

The United States, European Union and Israel list Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Protests against evictions

Meanwhile in central Jerusalem, more than 10,000 Jewish settlers gathered Sunday to wage a protest against the evacuation of an illegal settlement in the West Bank near Ramallah.

The settlers say Israeli forces used violence against them while demolishing nine buildings last week at the Amona outpost, which was ruled illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court. The court said the homes were on land belonging to Palestinians.

On Wednesday, baton-wielding Israeli security forces battled demonstrators for several hours before the buildings were demolished. Israeli police said 83 officers were wounded, most of them lightly.

Israeli medical services put the number of people hurt during the struggle -- including protesters and police -- at 216, one of them seriously and nine moderately. Thirty-two civilians were arrested, police said.

Afterward, Israeli parliament member Ronnie Bar-On told Army Radio the Israeli government would no longer show restraint toward illegal settlements and protesters.

Last summer, the Israeli military forcibly removed about 8,000 settlers from Gaza and four small areas of the West Bank under the government's disengagement plan. Although television cameras captured dramatic scenes of settlers being dragged away by troops, there was little or no violence.

"We restrained ourselves in Gush Katif," Bar-On said. "We restrained ourselves in Hebron, in Yitzhar, and in outposts for a long time, even if people there physically injured security forces there. That's finished. The era of restraint has come to an end."

The settlers want a state commission of inquiry into their claims of excessive use of force. But acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday no such inquiry will be established. Although 1,000 police officers were patrolling the area near Sunday's demonstrations, there were no reports of violence.

On Wednesday, about 2,000 protesters squared off against about 3,000 police.

Protesters threw stones and steel rods at the security forces. Hundreds of protesters barricaded themselves inside the structures, pouring paint and chemicals on security forces attempting to enter the buildings.

Mounted on horseback, police charged into the rock-throwing crowd with batons flailing. Water cannons were also used to disperse the crowd. Numerous pro-settlement protesters and security forces were seen being carried away on stretchers.

The Amona outpost was established during the late 1990s on a hill about 1 kilometer, or half a mile, east of the Jewish settlement of Ofra.

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