Two Palestinians Killed in IDF Strike on Gaza Militant Group

IAF planes launch attack on militants in Khan Yunis who were planning to launch rockets into Israeli territory; militants belong to al-Qaida-affiliated faction challenging Hamas rule.

Israel Air Force planes launched an attack Tuesday on a band of Palestinian militants who were planning to launch rockets into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, killing two militants.

According to Palestinian sources, the targeted group was the al-Qaida-affiliated faction Tawhid al-Jihad, radical Islamists who have challenged the Hamas rule over the Palestinian enclave.

IDF strike on Gaza - AP - 2009

Israel Defense Forces officials confirmed the attack on Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. They noted that in contrast to previous incidents in which the IDF launched a retaliatory attack in response to rocket fire on Israel, in this case the militant group was identified well in advance and the attack was planned and carried out before the militants were able to launch any rockets toward Israel.

Two weeks ago, IDF forces attacked a smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip after a mortar and a Qassam fired from Gaza landed in Israel. This was the first such incident in a long period of relative quiet on the Israel-Gaza border for three months.

The most recent flare up in violence with Gaza occurred in March, after Hamas militants fired an anti-tank rocket across the border at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding an Israeli teenager, who later succumbed to his wounds. Israel retaliated to the March attacks with air and ground strikes, killing 19 Palestinians.