Air strike kills Palestinian fighter in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA (Agencies) — An Israeli air strike killed one fighter and wounded three other Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Saturday, residents said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the strike was aimed at a vehicle used by fighters it accused of planning an attack against Israel.

The dead man was from the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fateh movement. Another fighter and two bystanders were wounded.

Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in June to try to recover a captured soldier and stop cross-border rocket fire.

Over 220 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive, around half of them civilians.

One of two makeshift rockets fired at the Jewish state on Saturday landed in the garden of a house in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, lightly wounding one person. The Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the rockets.

Protests

Meanwhile, thousands of government employees and security officials filled the streets of Gaza on Saturday, burning tyres, blocking roads and firing in the air, to protest delays and complications in receiving their long-awaited salaries.

The Palestinian government on Thursday began paying partial salaries to 165,000 civil servants who haven’t received their full wages in months due to an economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority. The individual payments of $350 come from money donated to the government by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

But government employees complained that in some cases, the money hadn’t arrived, and in others they were left with nothing after Palestinian banks had deducted commissions and interest and paid off existing loans.

The protesters closed the main road between Gaza City and Khan Younis, affecting movement between Gaza City and the southern Gaza Strip.

Outside Rafah City, protesters threw stones at the vehicle of Attalah Abu Sabh, Hamas’ minister of culture, breaking the windows of the car. Abu Sabh was unharmed, Hamas officials said. The protesters also tried to enter a number of schools and disrupt studies, witnesses said.

Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam ordered security forces to deploy in the streets of Gaza on Sunday to prevent similar protests. The order authorised the use of “all means of force,” said ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal.

“Those who protested today … do not represent security institutions. They are violating law and order, so they are illegal,” he said.

Israel and the West froze economic ties with the Palestinian Authority after the Hamas group took power in March. Hamas has refused international demands that it recognize Israel, accept signed peace agreements and renounce violence.

With the aid cut off, the government has been unable for six months to pay the full salaries to its workers, a major part of the Palestinian workforce. Government workers, including teachers, doctors and security officers, have repeatedly staged strikes demanding the salaries and calling for the resignation of the Hamas government.

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