An Israeli helicopter killed a leading Hamas militant and his assistant Saturday by firing four missiles at their pickup truck in a central Gaza Strip refugee camp, Palestinian security officials said.
The vehicle burst into flames, witnesses said. At least two bystanders were wounded.
The dead were identified as Abdullah Akel, 37, and his assistant Farid Mayet, 40, both members of the Hamas military wing, Izzidin al-Qassam.
Akel, a leading field commander in central Gaza, had fired mortar shells and homemade Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and Jewish settlements and was preparing to fire more rockets when he was killed, the Israeli army said.
Waving Hamas banners and calling for revenge, about 5,000 Palestinians marched through the Nusseirat and Bureij refugee camps in a funeral procession for the two men.
Israel stepped up its campaign against militants after a Jerusalem bus bombing that killed 21 people Aug. 19. Since then, Israel has killed 10 Hamas militants.
Saturday’s strike came a day after Palestinian gunmen shot dead a Jewish settler and wounded his pregnant wife in a West Bank roadside ambush.
On Saturday, Israeli troops also killed an 8-year-old girl and wounded seven other Palestinians with submachine-gun fire in Gaza’s Khan Yunis refugee camp, witnesses and hospital officials said. The girl, Aya Fayad, was shot in the chest by soldiers firing from a nearby military base.
The soldiers fired at an area where Palestinian militants were detonating roadside bombs on a patrol route, the army said.
Palestinian militants in the same area later fired three mortar shells at a Jewish settlement, damaging a house but injuring no one, the army said.