Israel kills al Qaeda-linked militant in Gaza strike

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 27, 2011 4:59 PM
Israel kills al Qaeda-linked militant in Gaza strike

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel killed an al Qaeda-affiliated militant in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, accusing him of involvement in planning to launch attacks on the Jewish state from neighboring Egypt.

The missile, apparently from an aircraft, that killed Abdallah Telbani and wounded two other men in a motorized rickshaw was followed by a separate strike on a jeep elsewhere in Gaza City.

The second vehicle's three occupants were injured, Palestinian hospital officials and witnesses said.

Telbani was linked to a loose network of ultra-conservative Salafis who profess allegiance to al Qaeda, people who identified his body said.

The Salafis have been reinforced by volunteers who slip into Gaza from neighboring Egypt, and chafe at the rule of Hamas, which practices a more politically accommodating Islamism.

Both groups preach the destruction of the Israel, though Hamas has said it could consider a long-term truce.

Israel's military confirmed carrying out the two strikes, using its term for al Qaeda affiliates, "Global Jihad," to describe the men targeted.

Those in the jeep, the military said in a statement, had attempted to carry out an attack on Israel from the Egyptian Sinai. It further accused them of involvement in firing rockets from Gaza into Israel and planting bombs on the border fence.

An Israeli security source said Telbani was also involved in the alleged Sinai plot. Israel has been on high alert for such attacks since losing eight of its citizens to a guerrilla raid along the Egyptian frontier in August.

Palestinians fired two short-range rockets into Israel from Gaza on Sunday and Monday, causing no damage. No Gaza factions claimed responsibility for those attacks.

The Salafis are especially secretive about their operations, holding low-key funerals for fallen fighters. Telbani, as seen by a Reuters correspondent in the morgue, did not wear the heavy beard and Afghan-style smock favored by many Salafis.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alison Williams)