Israeli airstrikes kill six in Gaza Strip
Israel launched three back-to-back airstrikes in the southern and central Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least six Palestinian gunmen, medical officials said.
Four of the dead were militants of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the radical Islamic Jihad faction, whose car took a direct hit from an Israeli missile as it was moving down a Khan Younis street, witnesses said.
Two more Palestinian militants, one of them also of the Islamic Jihad, were killed and at least two others wounded in a second and third airstrike on a car and a group of gunmen in the area of nearby town of Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, Gaza emergency services chief Mo'aweya Hassanein said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed all three airstrikes. She was not immediately able to give details and confirm reports that the militants were involved in rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.
The airstrikes come as Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas movement ruling Gaza came just before a news bulletin report from Cairo in which Egypt's state news agency MENA cited officials as saying an Egyptian-brokered truce in the Gaza between Israel and Hamas had been reached. Egypt said the truce would start Thursday.
However, Hamas declined to immediately confirm the Egyptian report. Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas would hold talks with other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night, and make an announcement only after those talks.
Earlier, Barhoum had reported progress in the talks, which he called "positive," and said a deal could be reached "soon."
A delegation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, meanwhile, arrived in Gaza from Ramallah on Tuesday.
It was the first visit by a Fatah delegation since Hamas one year ago violently seized sole control of the Strip from Abbas' rival Fatah faction, by ousting security forces loyal to the president.
A Fatah official said the delegation was to prepare the ground for a resumption of talks between Hamas and Fatah, which had cut off ties following the Gaza take-over.
Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Fatah spokesman in the West Bank told reporters that his movement "doesn't oppose" holding meetings between Fatah and Hamas leaders in Gaza.
But he said Abbas delegated the two Fatah leaders to visit Gaza to initially hold talks with other, local Fatah leaders in the Strip.
"Hamas is facing a difficult test. It must choose between ending the internal split, which will eventually destroy the Palestinian dreams, or restore the national unity," said Abdel Rahman, reported dpa.