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Israel says its air strike killed five Gaza militants planning attack

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Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

(Read caption) A relative of Palestinian militant Mohammed al-Asar mourns during his funeral in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, Sunday. An Israeli air strike killed five Palestinian militants, including al-Asar, in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maleki condemned an Israeli air strike that killed five in Gaza late Saturday in one of the deadliest strikes since the 22-day Gaza incursion that began in Dec. 2008 and killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. But the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and witnesses claim the five were preparing to launch a rocket into Israel at the time of the strike.

The Palestinian Authority protests each “Israeli attack against our people,” Mr. Maleki said in a Sunday address broadcast by the Palestinian Authority-controlled Voice of Palestine radio station in the West Bank town of Ramallah. “But despite the crimes of the occupation, we maintain the will to continue the process of construction and preparation for the proclamation of the state regardless of the Israeli actions,” he said, according to the Eurasia Review.

Palestinian hospital officials confirmed that the young men were militants, Al Jazeera reports. The Palestine Telegraph refers to them as “martyrs [who] were Palestinian resistance fighters who took a position at the nearby areas of the Israeli borders.”

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