IDF Kills 9 Palestinians in Gaza; Hamas Vows Revenge

Palestinians say woman shot dead by sniper Friday; IDF says it fired at two gunmen near Khan Yunis.

Gaza Strip residents said Israel Defense Forces troops shot dead a Palestinian woman in a Gaza village on Friday where soldiers and militants clashed.

The incident came after at least eight Palestinians were killed Thursday in two separate IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian doctors said the woman was shot by an Israeli sniper while she was standing outside her home in southern Gaza. The IDF said troops in the area identified two gunmen east approaching the force east of Khan Yunis and opened fire, hitting both of them, but was not aware of a woman being hit.

"The soldiers were operating in the area in search of underground tunnels and other security threats," an army spokesman said.

The IDF intensified its offensive in Gaza on Thursday, killing eight Palestinians, including two children.

Military sources said the IDF plans to continue its offensive because the Palestinian terror groups are continuing to arm themselves, Hamas is increasingly becominginvolved in attacks on israel and talks aimed at securing the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit have stalled. The IDF is operating in northern Gaza and east of Khan Yunis.

At least two Palestinians were killed and at least seven injured in an Israel Air Force missile strike on the Gaza City home of a Hamas leader Thursday night. Before dawn Friday, Palestinians fired an anti-tank rocket at IDF troops, causing no injuries, Israel Radio reported.

Earlier Thursday, six Palestinians were killed in clashes between the Israel Defense Forces and militants in southern Gaza.

Hamas vowed revenge, and the head of its political bureau, Khaled Meshal, called Israel a "cancer that must be pulled out by its roots."

There was also sporadic fighting overnight between rival gunmen loyal to Hamas and Fatah in northern Gaza after a local Hamas leader and a member of a Fatah-dominated intelligence service were killed in separate incidents on Thursday.

Air strike targets home of Hamas commanderAn IDF spokesman confirmed the air strike targeted the house of a Hamas commander, Sharaf Farwana, in the Sajaiyeh section of Gaza City near the border with Israel.

The army said Farwana was involved in attacks against Israel and supplying weapons to Hamas militants.

Farwana survived the attack, but the strike killed his brother, 25-year-old Aiman Farwana, and a 2-year-old girl.

Aiman Farwana was said to be tied to Hamas, the Associated Press reported.

A second air strike close to midnight Thursday targeted a metal workshop suspected of manufacturing weapons in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

Shortly after the IAF strike, Palestinian gunners fired Qassam rockets at the Negev. One rocket slammed into an electrical powerline in Sderot and plunged the city into darkness.

There were no reported casualties and the Israel Electric Corporation was able to restore power quickly to much of the city. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket strike.

Meanwhile, internal Palestinian violence continued in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. A Hamas militant identified as Majid Darbiya was gunned down in Beit Lahia by unknown assailants.

In Gaza City, masked Palestinians through a grenade into a local radio station, lightly injuring four people and causing severe damage to the building, according to Israel Radio.

Hamas vows revengeA spokesman for the Hamas military wing vowed Thursday that the group would take harsh revenge for the IDF operation in Gaza, in which six people - including four militants - were killed.

Five of the dead were members of the same family.

"In light of the ugly crimes in Khan Yunis and the northern Gaza Strip, we will bombard and strike in every place, north and south. The response will be powerful and will cause the earth to tremble. The enemy must now wait patiently for our actions," he said.

Witnesses and medics that said troops backed by helicopter gunships entered the village of Abassan, east of Khan Yunis, at dark, touching off clashes.

Of the five family members killed, three were armed militants of the ruling party's militant wing. They were identified as Abed Rahman Kadiah, 25, Salah Kadiah, 25, and Naeel Kadiah, 22. The other two family members were bystanders, named as Adal Kadiah, 40, and his 13-year-old son Suhaib Kadiah.

The fourth militant, Mohammed Barakha, 23, was killed later Thursday as clashes raged into the afternoon. IDF troops opened fire on Barakha as he advanced toward them under cover of a large crowd.

The IDF confirmed its forces were operating in the area looking for facilities used by militants. Troops fired on gunmen who tried to attack them, an army spokesman said. At least 11 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes.

"This is an area believed to conceal tunnels and other forms of infrastructure used by terrorist groups," he said.

Militants fired anti-tanks missiles at troops raiding the area, but there were no casualties among the soldiers.

Earlier Thursday, the Israel Air Force destroyed the house of a Hamas militant in the Jabalya refugee camp, which the IDF said was being used as a storehouse for weapons.