GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – An 11-year-old Palestinian girl died Tuesday of injuries sustained in an Israeli missile strike, one of six recent attacks on Hamas (search) targets in what Israel's defense minister said is a fight "to the finish" against the Islamic militant group.
In the West Bank (search), leaders of the ruling Fatah (search) movement met in another attempt to resolve a bitter power struggle between veteran leader Yasser Arafat (search) and his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. The two men are no longer on speaking terms, Palestinian mediators said.
In Israel, a landmark report on Israel's treatment of its large Arab minority continued to dominate public debate Tuesday, a day after its release. The 831-page report concluded that successive Israeli governments discriminated against Arab citizens, and that the minority's growing frustration was a key trigger in October 2000 riots in which 13 Arabs were killed by police fire.
The report, issued by a commission of inquiry after three years of study, marked the first time in Israel's 55-year history that a state-appointed body criticized government policy toward the Arab minority in such a sweeping way. The report also said some Arab leaders in Israel encouraged violence, and that police used excessive force, including live fire and rubber-coated steel pellets, in quelling large crowds that took to the streets at the time in a show of support with the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
In the Gaza Strip, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl, Sana Daour, died Tuesday of injuries she sustained last week in an Israeli missile strike, hospital officials said. The girl became the third victim of that attack, which also killed two other bystanders, but missed its target, a Hamas fugitive.
Israel has carried out six missile attacks on Hamas targets since an Aug. 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem in which 21 people died. In all, 15 Palestinians, including four bystanders, have been killed in the missile strikes.
In a strike Monday, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying three Hamas militants, killing one and critically wounding a second, while the third got away. Twenty-five bystanders were also hurt. The dead man was identified as Khader Houssre, a 36-year-old Hamas member.
The missiles hit as the car drove along a crowded side street in downtown Gaza City. "I rushed outside, and saw a car like a ball of fire," said witness Salman Abu Nur, 42, a printer.
The militants in the car had been firing rockets at Israeli towns and Jewish settlements, Israeli Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir said.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in a statement released after the weekly Cabinet meeting Monday that Israel would fight "to the bitter end" against Hamas.
Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told the Cabinet he was prepared to launch a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip if necessary, according to a statement.
In Ramallah, members of the Fatah Central Committee met at Arafat's headquarters Tuesday to try to reach a compromise between Arafat and the U.S.-backed, increasingly unpopular Abbas.
Israel says it will not negotiate with a Palestinian government handpicked by Arafat, should Abbas be ousted in a parliament vote, possibly as early as next week.
Abbas has failed to reach two major objectives, persuading Palestinian militants to halt violence and improving the daily lives of his people through progress on the road map.