Palestinian girl, Israeli killed in fighting

An Israeli missile aimed at a group of militants struck a house in the Gaza Strip on Thursday and killed a 6-year-old Palestinian girl, Palestinian officials said, hours after an Israeli was killed by a Hamas mortar barrage fired from the area, the AP reported.

The sudden spike in violence dealt a new setback to Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, and raised the likelihood of a tough Israeli military reprisal.

The Israeli army confirmed the aerial attack and said it had hit a "gunman."

But Hamas security officials said the missile missed a group of militants and struck a nearby house. The Palestinian girl, who was playing outside, was killed and her mother was wounded, said Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The airstrike came shortly after Gaza's Hamas rulers claimed responsibility for the deadly mortar attack in southern Israel. The mortar shells were fired from the same area targeted in the airstrike, the army said.

Israeli government spokesman David Baker said Hamas "will be held accountable" for the mortar attack. Israeli defense officials were set to discuss a response at a meeting Sunday after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert returns from the U.S.

Asked by reporters accompanying him in Washington if the time had come for a large-scale Israeli ground offensive into Gaza, Olmert was noncommittal.

"We are not eager for a military operation," he said. "But we are not shying away from one."

In Jerusalem, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the mortar shells hit a paint factory at the Nir Oz communal farm, killing a 52-year-old man and wounding four other people.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for the past year, said it had fired three mortar shells "as a response to the nonstop aggression against our people."

Israel frequently conducts airstrikes and ground incursions in Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. But the area has been largely quiet in recent weeks as Egypt works to wrap up a truce agreement.

Olmert is expected to convene his Security Cabinet, a gathering of senior government ministers and defense officials, on Sunday to discuss the ongoing violence in Gaza, Israeli defense officials said.

The officials said the Security Cabinet would consider voting on the cease-fire proposal, or alternatively discuss whether to step up military action in Gaza. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said most members of the Security Cabinet oppose the cease-fire at the current time.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has repeatedly warned that a large-scale military operation in Gaza is likely, despite the Egyptian cease-fire efforts.

Israel fears that Hamas will use the lull to rearm and has demanded that any agreement include assurances that Hamas halt arms smuggling across its border with Egypt. Israel also wants Hamas to release an Israeli soldier who has been held captive in Gaza for nearly two years.

Hamas, meanwhile, wants a cease-fire to include a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and an end to Israel's yearlong economic blockade of Gaza.

Israel sealed Gaza's borders and imposed other economic sanctions after the Hamas takeover of Gaza last year, and tightened the restrictions after a sharp increase in rocket fire several months ago. The sanctions have caused widespread shortages of fuel, electricity and many basic goods in Gaza.

Israeli officials say the blockade will be eased only at a later stage if there is a halt to the rocket attacks.

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel since Hamas violently took control of Gaza last year. The attacks have killed 16 people in Israel since late 2001.

While Israel battles Hamas in Gaza, it has been conducting peace talks with the rival Palestinian government of moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank. Abbas expelled Hamas from the Palestinian government after Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

Abbas has refused to speak to the group until it cedes control of Gaza. But in an apparent about-face, Abbas called Wednesday for new dialogue with Hamas.

Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, welcomed the gesture. "We have to encourage the people. We have to dry their wounds. We have to clean their tears and to heal their pain," he said in a speech in Gaza City on Thursday.

Abbas gave no details about his proposal, including whether he had dropped his preconditions.

If Abbas were to start negotiating with Hamas, he could jeopardize the broad international support that he gained after the Hamas takeover. Israel has previously threatened to cut off peace talks if Abbas takes the Islamic militants back into his government. The U.S., Israel and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist group.

But Abbas has grown increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of talks with Israel. Earlier Wednesday, Abbas' chief negotiator said it would take "a miracle" to meet the year-end target for a deal set by President Bush.

Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
Turkmenistan to create electronic exchange database
Turkmenistan to create electronic exchange database
Potential areas of Turkmenistan’s interaction within Visegrad Group+Central Asia framework identified
Potential areas of Turkmenistan’s interaction within Visegrad Group+Central Asia framework identified
Loading Bars
Iran's trade turnover with Pakistan shrinks
Brazil registers over 370,000 deaths from COVID-19
5.8-magnitude quake strikes off Japan's Miyagi Prefecture
Iraq reports 6,552 new COVID-19 cases, 970,987 in total
More than 805,000 COVID-19 infections detected worldwide over past 24 hours
5.1-magnitude quake hits 20 km S of Mandraki, Greece
Israel reports 142 new COVID-19 cases, 836,882 in total
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
India's sports minister tests positive for COVID-19
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijan's transport sector
EU to hand over 30 vehicles to Georgia Border Police
Turkish scientist works on drug that can ‘kill COVID-19 in 2 days’
Uzbekistan may start production of its own vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year
Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
UK records another 2,206 coronavirus cases, 35 deaths
Iranian official offers upbeat assessment of progress in nuclear talks
Volume of goods transported by Azerbaijan’s vehicles in 2021 disclosed
Indonesia reports 5,041 new COVID-19 cases, 132 new deaths
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 3 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Geostat reveals volume of Russian exports to Georgia
Solar panel station put into operation in Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province
New auction to be held for Azerbaijani Finance Ministry's mid-term bonds
Georgia increases import of vehicles from Turkey
Kyrgyzstan imposes restrictive measures at airports
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds in Iran
Foreigners to pass simplified visa procedures for 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Serbian FM to visit Tehran today
Azerbaijan discloses number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,148 more COVID-19 cases, 2,287 recoveries
Armenia falsified Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan - rep of religious community
Iran to send trade attaché to Azerbaijan
Weekly review of major events in Azerbaijan's oil & gas sector
Azerbaijan shares footage from Jabrayil's Dash Veysalli village (VIDEO)
Armenia strived to create history for itself in Azerbaijan's lands - Head of Albanian-Udi community
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 17
Volume of loaded and unloaded cargo in Iran’s Charak port climbs
Azerbaijani oil prices on rise
VICE News report on Armenia's attack on Azerbaijani Barda nominated for award
Weekly review of main events in ICT sector of Azerbaijan
Earnings from fuel savings in Iran paid to investors
Uzbekistan's CCI, Portuguese Industrial Association establish co-op
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Rosatom, Uzbekistan working on contract for building nuclear power plant
Turkmenistan to create electronic exchange database
IMF calls on Georgia to reduce capital expenditures in case of lockdown
Russia reports a new high of 9,321 coronavirus cases since March 20
Azerbaijan's Albanian-Udi Christian community members visit ancient temple in Tugh - Trend TV (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should force Armenia to follow terms of trilateral statement - Azerbaijan's Parliament
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Azerbaijan, Turkic Council discuss creation of joint digital tools
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
EU rep should follow int'l law before meeting with separatist in Karabakh - expert
Potential areas of Turkmenistan’s interaction within Visegrad Group+Central Asia framework identified
Georgia reports 1,219 new coronavirus cases for April 17
Georgia holds auction for privatization of state property
Azerbaijani MP talks about spring session of IPA CIS held in Russia's St. Petersburg
Georgia continues to conduct research on Namakhvani HPP
Iran unveils details exports from Maragheh County
Kazakhstan reveals total number of TEU containers shipped along Aktau-Baku feeder line
There have always been good grape varieties in Pirshaghi – white and black Shani - President Aliyev
Participants of Azercell Student Bursary and Internship Programs share their success stories
Iran boosts aluminum ingots production
Azerbaijani police find mortar shells, detonators left by Armenia in Gubadly (VIDEO)
Iran declares amount of loans issued to SMEs
Kazakhstan's revenues from road cargo transportation down
Concept of ensuring security of Afghan section of TAPI signed
Members of Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan visit liberated Khojavand (PHOTO)
Australia to continue review of COVID vaccinations - health minister
Italian media outlets highlight speech of Azerbaijani president at int'l conference in Baku
Kazakhstan decreases import of Ukraine-made goods y-o-y
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to buy compressors
Azerbaijan sets up structure to work on urban planning in liberated lands
Kazakhstan's oil & gas company opens tender to develop consolidated time standards
Meeting of EU special rep with so-called "FM of Karabakh" promotes separatism, says Azerbaijani expert
Iranian currency rates for April 17
Iran to increase vaccinations as fourth wave of COVID-19 rises
Iran reaches target uranium enrichment
Oil demand to keep on rising in May, June 2021
Work on provision of electricity to Azerbaijan's liberated Sugovushan nearing completion
Bulgaria sees Georgia as valuable partner
Significant number of Georgian citizens register for employment program in Israel
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 caseload up by 2,822
Ukraine receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine under COVAX initiative
IMF corrects estimate on Iran's foreign exchange bank reserves
Azerbaijan attracting foreign investments for renewable energy projects
Uzbekistan to open an embassy in Sweden
Global COVID-19 infection rate approaching highest: WHO
Portugal resumes flights to Brazil, Britain
Turkey reports over 63,000 daily COVID-19 cases
EU eyes to provide grants to Georgian non-profit organizations
Israel reports 41 new COVID-19 cases, 836,740 in total
Biden signs order keeping Trump-era refugee cap at 15,000
EU-UK trade plunges after Brexit: Eurostat
UK records another 2,596 coronavirus cases, 34 deaths
UN Security Council approves ceasefire monitors for Libya
North Macedonia vaccinates some 35,000 citizens
Raul Castro resigning from Cuba’s Communist Party
Azerbaijani IT company working on creating new network, server infrastructures
Georgian Economy Ministry to form expert council on Namakhvani HPP
Relations between Russia, Azerbaijan attain degree of strategic alliance - Federation Council Chair of Russian Federal Assembly
All news