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Conflicting death tolls emerge in Israeli airstrike

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:03 AM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
Palestinians gather around the wreckage of a car targeted by an Israeli aircraft in the town of Rafah on September 19, 2012.
Palestinians gather around the wreckage of a car targeted by an Israeli aircraft in the town of Rafah on September 19, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Palestinian security officials say three people are killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza
  • Casualties include the brother of a senior adviser to Hamas, officials say
  • Israeli forces say two terror operatives are killed
  • It identifies one of the dead as a member of the terror group Defenders of al-Aqsa

Editor's note: Read a version of this story in Arabic

(CNN) -- An Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza killed three people Wednesday, Palestinian security and medical officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces said it targeted two terror operatives who it alleged were in the final stages of planning an attack against Israeli civilians. Palestinian security officials said three Hamas government officials were killed.

There were also conflicting reports about the identities of those killed in the strike near the Gaza-Egypt border crossing of Rafah.

Palestinian security officials said the three were Hamas government officials, while the Israel forces said it killed members of a terrorist group.

Palestinian officials identified one of the three as Ashraf Saleh, the brother of a senior political adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniya. It did not provide the identities of the other two men.

The defense forces identified one of the two men as Ani Abus Mahmoud el-Anin, a member of the terror group Defenders of al-Aqsa, according to a statement released by the IDF. It did not say how it obtained the information.

CNN's Amir Ahmed and journalist Talal Abu Rahma contributed to this report.

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