Israel Navy Kills Four Palestinian 'Militants' Off Gaza

Israel's navy has shot and killed four Palestinians wearing diving gear off the Gaza coast, officials say. The Israeli military said it believed those on board the boat were planning a terrorist attack. Hamas officials in Gaza say four bodies have been recovered and two people are missing. It comes a week after nine pro-Palestinian activists died in an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005, but still controls and occupies the sea off the territory's coast. The Israeli military said the boat was carrying "a squad of terrorists wearing diving suits on their way to execute a terror attack".

Israel's navy has shot and killed four Palestinians wearing diving gear off the Gaza coast, officials say.

The Israeli military said it believed those on board the boat were planning a terrorist attack.Hamas Four bodies have been recovered off the coast of the central Gaza Strip officials in Gaza say four bodies have been recovered and two people are missing.It comes a week after nine pro-Palestinian activists died in an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005, but still controls and occupies the sea off the territory's coast.The Israeli military said the boat was carrying "a squad of terrorists wearing diving suits on their way to execute a terror attack".A spokesman said a naval force had hit its target, but did not give any more details of the operation.

The country's Haaretz newspaper quoted an Israeli army source as saying the incident took place at about 0430 local time (0130 GMT), and that the boat had been heading north to Israel from waters off the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Israeli media are reporting that helicopters were involved in the operation.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, has reported that four of its men were killed and a fifth is missing, according to Israeli media.The men had been training off the Gaza coast, the militant group was quoted as having claimed.The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said there were no Israeli casualties.

Rocket fire

The BBC's Jon Donnison, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, says it is not yet clear exactly what happened. But it is not uncommon for the Israeli navy to open fire on fishing boats it feels are too far out at sea, he adds. There has also been sporadic rocket fire out of Gaza into Israel since last week's naval attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.

The latest incident comes as the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Turkey for a regional security summit along with Iran and Syria.

Mr Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, is expected to pay his respects William Hague (L) will seek a consensus with other EU nationsto the nine activists killed last week, eight of whom were Turks and one a US national of Turkish origin.

Mr Abbas's government is the bitter rival of Hamas, which took control of Gaza from his Fatah movement in 2007. The deaths have sparked global condemnation but defiance from Israel, which insists it has the right to defend itself.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of "state terrorism", and is calling Gaza a "historic cause for Turkey". Another aid ship, the Irish-owned Rachel Corrie, was intercepted by Israel on Saturday and officials have begun deporting its crew and activists.

'European role'

France and Britain have called for Israel to accept a "credible and transparent" investigation into the deadly Israeli raid on 31 May.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner suggested that the EU could play a bigger role to ensure that humanitarian supplies reached Gaza, and that weapons were kept out.

Mr Kouchner also said Europe needed to work harder to convince Israel that its blockade of Gaza Israel navy kills four Palestinian 'militants' off Gazawas not working, and nor was it in the long-term interests of the region.

His comments followed talks with British counterpart William Hague, who said Europe would maintain pressure on Israel. But Israel's US ambassador Michael Oren said his country would reject the proposals, and reiterated that an internal inquiry would be held.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Red Crescent has announced it will send two aid ships to Gaza this week, Iranian state media report. Our correspondent says if this happens it will no doubt ratchet up the tension off the Gaza coast. Israel believes Iran supplies Hamas with weapons.

source : BBC