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Israel Strikes Gaza Ministry

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Israeli airstrikes hit the eight-story Palestinian Foreign Ministry building here early today, part of a campaign against the militant group Hamas and the government it controls.

A separate airstrike gutted the offices of a Hamas-led security force in the Islamist stronghold of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

Early Sunday, tanks and troops had pushed into northern Gaza, and airstrikes and clashes killed at least six Palestinians, including a woman.

Israel launched the Gaza offensive June 28 after militants, some linked to Hamas, captured an Israeli soldier in a crossborder raid a few days earlier.

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Witnesses said the Foreign Ministry building, which was badly damaged in a previous airstrike, was flattened by the early-morning blast. They said nearby homes, shops and offices also were damaged and that at least nine Palestinians were injured. No deaths were reported.

The Israeli army confirmed the attack. An army spokesman accused Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, of using his offices “to plan continued terror attacks against Israel.”

Israel has bombed several other buildings used by Hamas and its elected leaders, including the office of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, demands that Israel free Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier’s release. Israel has refused.


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