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Gaza strip: Israeli strike killed wife, child of military chief, says Hamas

Gaza City: An Israeli air strike on Gaza City killed the wife and infant daughter of elusive Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, the Islamist group said early today.

"The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter," in a strike last night, Hamas's exiled deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk wrote on Facebook while saying nothing about the fate of Deif himself. He said that Israel had been looking for "an excuse to target a big Hamas leader".

Palestinian emergency services revised an earlier report of three killed in the strike on a large house in the city's Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood and said the victims were a woman and a two-year-old girl. Another 45 people were injured, they said.

Yesterday's deaths were the first as a result of Israeli air raids in Gaza since August 10. More than a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas has killed at least 2,020 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8.

Deif was appointed head of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002 after the death of his predecessor Salah Shehade in a raid. Deif had survived at least five previous Israeli attempts to kill him. The brigades said after the strike that Israel had "opened the gates of hell on himself" by the attack.

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