Israelis fire rockets at Palestinian militant, killing six

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli aircraft fired missiles into a car carrying Palestinian militants Friday, killing six people including a bomb maker and his 5-year-old daughter, in the deadliest Israeli attack since the Hamas-led Palestinian government took office.

The air strike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah came as the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, and moderate President Mahmoud Abbas met to try to settle some of their growing differences.

The Israeli strike targeted a training camp of the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group for gunmen from various factions, including many with ties to the Islamic militant Hamas. The group has attacked Israeli targets in the past, including planting bombs under tanks.

The Israeli military said the aircraft targeted the car as it was leaving the isolated training camp, and Palestinian police said four missiles were fired.

The car was destroyed and four people inside were instantly killed, police said. Two others died later of their injuries.

Among those killed were at least three militants, including Iyad Abul Aynayn, 29, who had ties to Hamas and was a chief bomb maker for the group, and his 5-year-old daughter.

Fourteen people were wounded, most of them militants, police said.

Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the new Hamas-led government, called the attack a “brutal massacre.”

Hamas has found itself under growing international pressure to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing peace agreements. In a major setback for the militants, the United States and the European Union – the Palestinians’ two major donors – said Friday they were cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid because of the Hamas-led government’s views. The U.S. and the EU said they would redirect some aid to humanitarian projects.

There have been signs in recent days that Hamas is trying to soften its image.

A senior Hamas official said Friday the group is ready to accept a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, which would imply recognition of Israel, without requiring Hamas to state this formally. But Haniyeh said he was not aware of a two-state proposal.

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