A destroyed vehicle following an IAF strike in Gaza, September 19, 2012.
A Palestinian boy inspects a destroyed vehicle following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 19, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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The Israel Air Force killed two Palestinian militants and seriously wounded another in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday.

The dead were members of the extremist group Islamic Jihad, said Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for Gaza's Health Ministry.

They were riding in a car in the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt when their vehicle was struck by two rockets, al-Qedra said.

Witnesses said two Russian-made rockets were fired from Rafah toward Israel just prior to the Israeli air force strike.

The IDF confirmed that the two killed in the strike, which was carried out as part of a joint operation by the IDF and Shin Bet security services, were members of the "Defenders of al-Aqsa," a group which operates under the sponsorship of Hamas.

According to the IDF spokesperson, the two operatives were involved in a number of attempted terror attacks over the past few years, and one of them, 33-year-old Anis Abu Mahmoud al-Anin, was recently planning to carry out a terrorist attack on Israeli soil.

The IDF also said that al-Anin, from Rafah, was involved in smuggling explosive devices into Israel through the Israel-Egypt border, as well as directing certain terror activities in the West Bank. The IDF said that Hamas knew about the planned terror attack, but did nothing to prevent it.   

Ashraf Mahmoud Salah, also 33, was the second person killed in the strike. He was a former member of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. According to the IDF spokesperson, he admitted to involvement in smuggling two armed militants into Egypt in order to carry out a suicide attack in Israel. He was also involved in the buying and selling of weapons.

The IDF has often targeted Gaza militants by aerial attack in response to rocket fire at its southern towns.