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Palestinian militant commander killed

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A senior commander for Palestinian Islamic Jihad was killed in a blast in the heart of Gaza City late Wednesday morning, Palestinian security sources said.

Witnesses said an Israeli aircraft launched an attack on Khaled Dahdoh near Islamic University, but the Israeli military said it was not involved and no Israeli military airstrike took place.

Islamic Jihad is a militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

The Israeli military confirmed it killed six people during three separate military strikes in the West Bank, around the area of Nablus, last week.

The main targets of the raids have been Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which carried out two suicide bombings in Israel in recent months, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an army commander said Tuesday.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a military offshoot of the Fatah movement that has attacked military and civilian targets in Israel and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel and the United States consider both groups to be terrorist organizations.

Separately, the IDF said it fired artillery shells into areas of northern Gaza after five Qassam rockets were fired into Israel. The rockets and artillery shells caused no damage or injuries.The campaign targeted militants suspected of planning suicide bombings and other attacks, according to an Israeli army spokeswoman.

Israel withdrew its troops and Jewish settlers from Gaza in September for the first time since occupying the territory in 1967. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said their withdrawal would put the onus on the Palestinians to seek peace.

Sharon remains in a coma since suffering a massive stroke in January.

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