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Attackers slipped into Israel via Egypt, militant says

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  • NEW: One Palestinian killed Monday in clash at Egypt-Gaza border, sources say
  • Mall blast kills 1, wounds 11 in Dimona, about 50 miles south of Jerusalem
  • Dimona attackers came from Gaza, entered Israel through Egypt, militant says
  • Israeli airstrike kills Palestinian militant in Gaza, Palestinian sources say
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Two Palestinians left Gaza across the recently breached border with Egypt and then entered Israel to carry out a suicide bombing Monday, a militant spokesman said.

It is unclear how the attackers got from Egypt to the southern Israeli town of Dimona, where one of them detonated a bomb at a shopping mall Monday, killing one person and injuring 11.

A police officer shot and killed the second attacker as he was reaching to set off his explosives belt.

Monday's attack had been planned for months, said Abu Fouad, a spokesman for Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a military offshoot of the Fatah movement, in Gaza City. The U.S. State Department considers the group to be a terrorist organization. Video Watch the scene at the shopping mall bombing »

Israel has raised concerns about the flow of terrorists and weapons across the Rafah Crossing, which separates Gaza and Egypt, after it was overrun two weeks ago.

Egyptian security forces closed the border Sunday, but the situation remained tense.

Clashes between Egyptian police and Palestinian militants broke out Monday along the Rafah border, leaving one Palestinian dead and at least three injured, according to Hamas security and Palestinian medical sources.

The police officer's quick action in Dimona may have prevented additional casualties.

Police officer Kobi Mor said he arrived on the scene minutes after the initial blast, which had knocked down the second attacker.

"When I arrived, someone told me that a second bomber was still alive," Mor said on Israeli radio. "I saw him lying on the ground moving his hand toward his exposed explosives belt.

"I shot toward him and saw that again he tried to move his hand. I knelt down and shot four more bullets toward his head."

Of the 11 wounded, one was seriously injured, two received moderate injuries and eight had light wounds.

The most recent reported suicide bombing in Israel was in January 2007 at a bakery in Eilat. Three people died in the attack. The military wings of Palestinian militant groups Islamic Jihad and Fatah claimed responsibility for that bombing.

In April 2006, 11 people died in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv.

Dimona is a community of around 33,000 about 50 miles south of Jerusalem. The Israeli nuclear program is hosted nearby at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, about eight miles to the southeast.

Hours after the suicide bombing in Dimona, an Israeli airstrike hit a senior member of the Popular Resistance Committee's militant wing, blamed for helping bring down the wall between Gaza and Egypt, the Israeli army said.

The strike in Beit Lahya, north of Gaza City, killed Amr Qarmout, 40, also known as Abu Saad, Palestinian medical sources said.

Qarmout was a spokesman and leading member of the Salahaddin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, an umbrella group of Palestinian militants.

The Israeli army confirmed Qarmout was the target of the airstrike but did not have any details on his condition.

An army spokeswoman said Qarmout was responsible for rocket attacks on Israel.

In an interview with CNN's Ben Wedeman last month, Qarmout described the weekslong covert operation by Palestinian militants to bring down the border wall between Gaza and Egypt.

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"The Palestinian resistance was able to get rid of the wall with intelligence, with experience and with all manhood," he said. "This operation was conducted out of the view of the media or politicians. It was completed in secrecy to prevent Israel from taking preventative measures or protesting."

The Popular Resistance Committee also was involved in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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