5 Palestinians, Senior Jihad Militant Killed in Gaza Air Strike

The head of the Islamic Jihad's military wing in the Gaza Strip, Makled Hamid, was killed Thursday evening, along with four other Palestinians, in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, militants said.

The other Palestinians killed in the attack included two Islamic Jihad members and two bystanders, and about 12 people were reported wounded.

Israeli helicopter gunships fired at least two missiles at a car driving between Gaza City and the nearby Jabalya refugee camp.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Hamid, 39, was planning a huge attack. "In the early evening hours, the military worked to foil what I would call a mega-attack in the Gaza Strip," he said, without elaborating.

It was the first air strike of its type in more than two months. Israel Defense Forces spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal described Hamid as a "ticking bomb," and said Hamid "was behind a long, long list of terror attacks, and he was in the midst of planning a major attack."

At the end of October, 14 Palestinians were killed in a series of assassination attempts in the Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza. The decision to stop the assassinations came in the wake of what military intelligence said was a strategic decision on the part of Hamas to stop carrying out attacks inside the Green Line. However, the Shin Bet security service disputes the army's assessment of Hamas.

IDF kills bomb-laden Jihad manIsraeli soldiers killed a Palestinian armed with a bomb near a settlement in the central Gaza Strip early Thursday, a military source said.

Palestinian sources said the man was a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group who had planned to carry out an attack on the Ganei Tal settlement.

Soldiers found the body with a bomb about 100 meters from the settlement gates, hours after having fired on a man they saw crawling toward the fence, the military source said.

Nine Palestinians were killed during an Israeli military raid this week, during exchanges of fire when IDF forces searched for openings to weapons-smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Palestinian medics identified the dead as five militants, a policeman and three bystanders.

In a separate incident on Thursday, an RPG projectile was fired at an agricultural hothouse at one Gaza settlement. There were no injuries.