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New Israeli air strike

At least 13 Palestinians were killed and 25 wounded tonight when five explosions rocked a field in the eastern part of Gaza City used by militants for training, witnesses said. The witnesses could not say for sure what caused the blasts, but many said it was either an Israeli air strike or tank shell attack. The scene of the explosions is near the border with Israel and Israeli attack helicopters hovered overhead. The Israeli military refused to comment. It was one of the bloodiest incidents in Gaza City in several months. Israeli forces often target Palestinian militants in Gaza in air strikes and other operations. In a week of heavy fighting in May, 31 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. With smoke rising from the field, Palestinians were seen searching the blacked-out area with candles and flashlights, looking for victims. Witnesses said a group of men gathered in the field about half an hour before the first two explosions were heard, killing and wounding many of them. The other three blasts went off as people were running away, they said. Ambulances and cars brought casualties to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. A hospital spokesman said at least 13 people were killed and 25 wounded, four critically. Half an hour after the blasts, casualties were still arriving. The blasts went off in the Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City, a known stronghold of the violent Islamic Hamas group, informs Thomas Crosbie Media. According to VOANews, Palestinian gunmen briefly seized the Governor's office in a southern Gaza Strip town Sunday. They were demanding the Palestinian Authority do more to assist families left homeless by Israeli raids last week. The gunmen occupied the administration office in Khan Younis early Sunday, several days after Israeli forces demolished two apartment buildings in the town. Palestinians say at least 40 families lost their homes in the Israeli raids. Palestinian witnesses said about 15 gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant group with loose ties to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, seized the governor's office in Khan Younis early Sunday and expelled most of the 22 workers in the building. The governor was not in the building at the time of the takeover. The Associated Press quoted one of the gunmen as saying they wanted nothing for themselves, only for those made homeless. The masked men left the offices an hour later after receiving assurances from the Palestinian Authority that a mechanism was being set up to compensate those who had been made homeless by the Israeli raids. Israel said Palestinian militants used the buildings they destroyed last week to launch attacks against Israelis and that the apartments were mostly vacant. The raid followed nearly simultaneous attacks by two suicide bombers in the southern Israeli town of Beer Sheva last week that left 16 people dead and nearly 100 injured. Hamas and two other radical groups called on Palestinians yesterday to register and to use their votes. Hamas said it regarded elections as a way to "lay the foundations to secure a dignified life, free from injustice, corruption and the abuse of rights", by which they mean the excesses of the myriad security organisations which are accused of systematic extortion and oppression of the people they are supposed to protect. The territory has recently descended into chaos amid widespread disillusionment with the rule of Mr Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Yesterday militants seized the local government offices in a southern Gaza town for several hours, demanding that the authority must do more to help families left homeless by an Israeli military operation last week. There are about 30,000 policemen, border guards, military and civil intelligence officers in Gaza, grouped in commands whose responsibilities often overlap. Rivalries have led to bloodshed. Reformers accuse the security organisations of colluding with some of the area's most powerful families to flout planning regulations and grab more of the Strip's overcrowded acres. Local people accuse them of making false arrests and demanding bribes to free their victims, publishes the Telegraph.

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