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Israeli minister issues death threat to Hamas leaders
All Hamas leaders should be killed to end rocket attacks from Gaza, a senior Israeli cabinet official said today, as Israeli planes carried out new air strikes in the territory.
"I don't distinguish between those who carry out the (rocket) attacks and those who give the orders. I say we have to put them all in the crosshairs," said Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the national infrastructure minister, on Israel Radio.
The comments from Mr Ben-Eliezer, a foreign policy hawk, came one day after Israeli jets struck the home of a Hamas politician, Khalil al-Hayya. He was not there but hospital officials said eight people were killed in the deadliest attack since Israel started retaliating to rocket salvos from Gaza last week.
The Israeli army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir said the strike was not aimed at Mr Haya, but at a group of five armed Hamas men, including a senior militant, near the home.
"They, and only they, were the target, and they were hit," Ms Meir said, adding that any civilian casualties "were the result of the terrorists' use of civilians as human shields".
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a top aide to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Israel for the attack.
"This escalation will lead the Middle East to more violence and instability," he said.
Hamas and Mr Abbas's Fatah faction are partners in a two-month-old unity government that is on the verge of breaking point because of recent infighting that has left 50 Palestinians dead.