Israelis Kill 7 Palestinians in Attacks

Israelis killed seven Palestinians in attacks Monday, including a Gaza (search) airstrike that killed one militant and wounded a militia commander, who vowed revenge from his hospital bed.

The Gaza attack came as each side pummels the other in the run-up to Israel's planned pullout from the crowded seaside territory next year.

An Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a car east of the city of Khan Younis (search), killing Ali al-Shaer, a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella of dissidents from several militant groups.

But Israeli military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the target was the other occupant of the car — Mohammed Abu Nasira, southern Gaza (search) commander of the group.

"The (Israeli) crimes will not pass without punishment," Abu Nasira told The Associated Press by telephone from the hospital, where he was being treated for serious burns. "I will continue my mission to terrorize the enemy (Israel), and we will win the battle."

Hundreds of people gathered around the white vehicle after the missile blast burned the passenger compartment, twisting the chassis but leaving the front half intact.

An Israeli military statement said only that the raid targeted "a vehicle carrying a senior operative" responsible for many attacks.

The Popular Resistance (search) group was behind explosions that destroyed two Israeli tanks and is thought by some to have been involved in a similar blast that destroyed a vehicle in a U.S. Embassy convoy a year ago, killing three security guards.

Two other people were wounded in the airstrike, one of dozens Israel has directed at Palestinian militants in four years of violence. Israel calls them self-defense strikes against potential terrorists, but Palestinians and human rights groups denounce them as summary executions.

Israel plans to pull its 8,200 settlers out of Gaza late next year, and Palestinian militants want to show that they are driving the Israelis out by force. Israel is determined to keep hitting the militants to deter them from attacking after the withdrawal.

At nightfall, Palestinian gunmen kidnapped a producer for the TV network CNN at gunpoint, the network's correspondent, Ben Wedeman said. In a CNN broadcast from Gaza, Wedeman said the gunmen stopped a CNN van and extracted Riad Ali (search).

Wedeman, who said he was also in the van, did not know why Ali was kidnapped, and CNN was trying to win his release. A statement from CNN president Jim Walton on CNN's Web site Monday night said the network hadn't heard from the abductors.

Palestinian militant groups denied involvement. A statement on the Hamas Web site called for Ali's release, saying that journalists "are playing an important role to help the Palestinian cause."

Israeli Arab journalist Rafik Halabi said Ali had not been harmed. "What I know is that Riad, my good friend and colleague, is alive and well," Halabi told Army Radio.

The station said contact had been made with the kidnappers but gave no details.

After the kidnapping, the Israeli military closed the main crossing from Israel into Gaza, used by Palestinians, diplomats and reporters, "following security assessments and security alerts." The military would not say if the decision was tied to the kidnapping.

In recent months, there have been several kidnappings in the West Bank and Gaza as the authority of Yasser Arafat's police wanes. Up to now, however, foreign correspondents and their crews have rarely been bothered by Palestinian militants.

Earlier Monday in Gaza, Israeli soldiers fired machine guns at the Khan Younis refugee camp, killing a 55-year-old civilian standing at a school gate, Palestinian security officials said.

The military said the only known shooting there was aimed at a Palestinian who appeared to be planting a bomb.

In the Rafah camp, Palestinians said four children were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

Near the Jebaliya refugee camp next to Gaza City, troops killed two armed Palestinians. The men, who were carrying explosives, were crawling in a no-go zone near the border fence with Israel when soldiers opened fire, the army said.

In what is becoming a daily routine, Palestinians fired homemade rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, just outside Gaza. Two residents were treated for shock.

In the West Bank, a Jewish settler shot and killed a Palestinian taxi driver. He told police the taxi tried to run him off the road, but Palestinian witnesses said the settler ambushed the taxi and opened fire for no reason. The Israeli was arrested.

In the nearby Balata refugee camp, troops shot dead two Palestinians, witnesses said. The military said soldiers fired at two armed men who were approaching an army post.

In the West Bank town of Jenin, Israeli troops hunting militants raided a hospital, searching rooms and calling over loudspeakers for fugitives to surrender.

Soldiers eventually left without making arrests, witnesses said. The hospital director said they caused considerable damage.

The wife of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti said her husband will run in Palestinian parliamentary elections expected next year.

Barghouti, considered a possible successor to Yasser Arafat, is serving multiple life terms after an Israeli court convicted him of involvement in attacks that killed Israelis.

Elsewhere Monday, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim accused President Bashar Assad of direct involvement in terrorism but stopped short of confirming that Israel was responsible for killing Hamas leader Izz Eldine Subhi Sheik Khalil in a car bomb in Damascus on Sunday.

"Syria is responsible for directing terrorism against us and therefore it is not immune from our operations to prevent terrorism," Boim told Israel Radio.

Although Boim and other officials refused to confirm Israel's involvement in Sunday's car bombing, Israeli security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged Israel had a hand in the attack.

Boim described Syria as a "central intersection" of terrorism and Assad as the "traffic officer."