Hamas Militants, Girl Die in Gaza Clashes

An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a building in a crowded Gaza City neighborhood after nightfall Thursday, killing a girl and a militant, Palestinians said.

Six people were killed in a clash in another part of Gaza earlier in the day.

The Israeli airstrike targeted a house of a Hamas commander in the Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City, near the border with Israel, witnesses said. Doctors said the dead girl was about 10 years old and the dead militant was the brother of the owner of the targeted house. Seven people were wounded, including children, doctors said.

Palestinians said the customary warning to evacuate the house was not given this time by the army.

The Israeli military said the owner of the house, Ashraf Farawana, is a Hamas leader who was involved in attacks against Israel and supplying weapons to Hamas militants.

In a pre-dawn raid in southern Gaza, Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a crowd of Palestinians, killing four Hamas militants and two other people, Palestinian security and hospital officials said.

The security officials said the incident occurred in the village of Abasan, east of Khan Younis, after Palestinians gathered outside a building where Israeli troops had taken up positions. Israeli armored vehicles had moved into the area and fired at some houses in the area, the security officials said.

Palestinian officials said five of the dead, including the militants and a 14-year-old boy, were members of the same family. An 18-year-old also was killed, though it was not immediately known whether he was a militant.

The army confirmed Israeli troops and aircraft had operated in the area overnight. It said troops had identified and hit seven Palestinians, all of them armed militants.

The army has been carrying out an offensive in the Gaza Strip since June, when militants linked to Hamas tunneled under the border fence into Israel and captured an Israeli soldier, who remains in captivity.

In a separate incident, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the home of a Hamas leader in the northern Gaza Strip. The army said the building was used to store weapons.

The army and Palestinian officials said the home owner was warned of the airstrike ahead of time, and the house was empty at the time of the airstrike.

During the offensive, Israel has carried out a series of airstrikes on suspected weapons storage facilities after ordering the occupants out of the buildings. Israel says the warnings are meant to avoid civilian casualties.