Israel sent a warplane to bomb the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building in Gaza City early Monday, the second air strike on the ministry in a week, pushing ahead with its three-week offensive in Gaza after terrorists killed two soldiers and captured a third.
An Associated Press reporter on the scene saw clouds of smoke rising from the already damaged building after the strike by an Israeli warplane. At least nine people in nearby houses were injured, rescue workers said. The Israeli military confirmed it struck the Palestinian Foreign Ministry as "part of ongoing operations."
The huge blast collapsed an eight-story wing of the building and damaged houses in a wide area around the ministry. Black smoke covered the area as police vehicles and ambulances raced in, sirens blaring. At least 50 apartments were severely damaged. Windows were shattered, furniture wrecked and several walls blown down. Stores on ground floor levels had their doors blown off. The other four ministries in the same compound were also damaged in the explosion.
2 gunmen hit
The ministry was empty at the time of the strike, 1:20 a.m. Israel bombed the same building on Thursday, saying it was used to plan terror attacks.
The Palestinian foreign minister is Mahmoud al-Zahar, a top Hamas leader. Israel has been attacking Gaza since June 28, three days after Hamas-linked terrorists tunneled under the border and attacked an Israeli army post at a Gaza crossing, killing two soldiers and capturing a third.
An hour earlier, Israeli aircraft fired at least five missiles at Palestinian terrorists during battles in northern Gaza early Monday, Palestinian security officials said.
At least two gunmen were wounded, hospital officials said.