Islamic Jihad leader unhurt in Gaza missile strike
Israeli missiles struck the Gaza office and home of Islamic Jihad's top leader early on Saturday in a failed bid to assassinate him, apparently in retaliation for the killing of 13 Israeli soldiers this week.
Witnesses said helicopter gunships fired eight missiles at the targets, wounding at least eight Palestinians, but officials of the militant group said Mohammed al-Hindi had safely fled the area.
The attempt on al-Hindi's life followed Israel's assassinations of the two senior Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
The missile barrage came hours after two Israeli soldiers were killed by Hamas militants in a refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip in the latest in a series of ambushes that has dealt the Middle East's mightiest army its worst blow in two years.
Helicopters first fired three missiles into an Islamic studies center housing al-Hindi's office and then targeted his home in another part of the densely populated city with five missiles, witnesses said.
Hamas claimed responsibility for killing six soldiers in a troop carrier on Tuesday during a raid in Gaza City, and Islamic Jihad said it was behind a similar bombing that killed five servicemen on Wednesday.
Polls showed deepening support in Israel for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza pullout plan, now stalled by hard-liners in his own rightist party, as this week's losses reminded Israelis of the high cost of the hard-to-defend Gaza settlements.
The Gaza violence has also raised concern among Israeli military planners that Palestinians have adopted the tactics of Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas that eventually ended Israel's occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.