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Israel Pounds Gaza, Threatens to Kill Hamas Leaders
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Israel stepped up air attacks in the Gaza Strip Monday, killing at least five Palestinians, and a senior Israeli cabinet minister said all Hamas leaders involved in cross-border rocket fire could be targeted.

"I don't distinguish between those who carry out the (rocket) attacks and those who give the orders. I say we have to put them all in the crosshairs," National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Israel Radio.

Thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets of Gaza City and gunmen fired into the air, vowing revenge, one day after an Israeli air strike on the home of Hamas politician Khalil al-Hayya.

Hamas said only two of the eight people killed in Sunday's attack were gunmen. Hayya was not injured, though he lost seven family members in the strike.

"We will keep to the same path until we win one of two goals: victory or martyrdom," Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, said at the funeral service.

Israeli aircraft carried out a series of attacks in the territory Monday. At least four members of Islamic Jihad, on their way to launch rockets at Israel, were killed in an air strike that destroyed their car near the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, the militant group said.

"The Zionist attack will not stop rocket fire against Zionist towns," said Abu Ahmed, spokesman of Islamic Jihad's armed wing. "Leaders of the Zionist enemy will pay a price."

One man was killed in an earlier attack on what Israel called a rocket manufacturing facility and Palestinians described as a stonemason's shop. The air strikes also knocked out electricity to about 50,000 people.

Israel's security Cabinet decided on Sunday to escalate military action in response to constant rocket attacks from Gaza, which have caused injuries but no deaths and have put political pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to act.

The Israeli military moves and an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire seem to have largely calmed more than a week of intense fighting between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions, in which nearly 50 people were killed.

But in a new incident, unidentified gunmen shot and wounded six Hamas men in a book shop in the Gaza town of Khan Younis.

Hamas, which last carried out a suicide bombing in Israel in 2004, threatened to respond to the attack on Hayya's home with "an earthquake" against the Jewish state.

Israel's Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, said Hamas' leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal, whom Israel tried to assassinate in Jordan in 1997, would not be immune to attack.

Dichter also said on Israel Radio that Haniyeh, who lives in Gaza, could be targeted should he become involved in ordering rocket fire.

(China Daily via agencies May 22, 2007)

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