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More wounded as Israel steps up strikes against Hamas

Story Highlights

• Israel Defense Forces says one attack targeted car carrying Hamas officials
• Other attacks targeted businesses funneling money for Hamas, IDF said
• Israel arrested Palestinian minister of culture / education, Palestinians said
• IDF confirmed that arrest operations were taking place in the West Bank
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Six people were wounded Wednesday night in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, the Palestinian Ramattan news agency said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed several of the airstrikes, saying one targeted a car carrying Hamas operatives and others hit businesses in Gaza that have been transferring funds from Iran, Syria and Lebanon to support Hamas and other organizations.

"Millions of dollars have been transferred each month to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, which has enabled the purchase and manufacture of weaponry and the carrying out of attacks against Israeli civilians, including Qassam [rocket] launchings," the IDF said in a written statement.

In addition, Palestinian security sources said Nasser al-Shaer, minister of culture and education, was arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Also arrested were two members of Parliament and two municipality heads, the security sources said.

The IDF said arrest operations were taking place in the West Bank.

Twenty suspected Islamic Jihad terror operatives, including senior members, were arrested earlier this week in Bethlehem, Israeli security sources said. They were taken in for questioning by security forces, the sources said.

Islamic Jihad has planned and attempted to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF targets, especially in the Bethlehem area, the sources said.

Early Wednesday, Israeli military forces "briefly" penetrated deep into the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis to conduct an operation "to prevent terror activity," an army spokesman told CNN.

During the operation several people were detained temporarily, he said.

According to Palestinian security sources, seven farmers were arrested, then released.

Meanwhile, sources close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told CNN that a meeting between Abbas, the leader of Fatah, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who heads Hamas, was under way Wednesday afternoon.

The meeting may smooth over tensions created in recent weeks by fighting between the rival factions.

The developments come a day after Israel's top defense official said all options were open as his country tries to halt Hamas militants in Gaza from launching Qassam rockets into Israel, including strikes against Haniya. (Read the full story)

In an interview on Tuesday with Israeli Radio, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said, "There is no one in the leading, commanding circle of Hamas who has immunity."

"They are just terrorists in suits."

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