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Gaza militants killed in Israeli airstrikes

At least two Gaza militants have been killed in the Palestinian territory after Israeli airstrikes. The deaths follow an exchange of fire earlier in the day and come on the eve of a historic visit by the emir of Qatar.

Security sources and the Islamist militant group Hamas, which governs Gaza, said two air strikes took place early on Monday in the northern town of Beit Hanun.

It is understood militants had been firing mortar shells at an Israeli tank and several military vehicles that had crossed the border.

The first strike critically killed one man and wounded three others, according to a Gaza health ministry spokesman, while the second is believed to have killed one and injured another.

Militants from the Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, say the first strike killed 25-year-old Abderahman Abu Jalaleh, and described him as a local commander. Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) movement said the second strike killed one of its militants, Yasser al-Tarabin.

Israeli police said militants had fired a wave of rockets into southern Israel, ahead of the strikes.

"Four rockets landed in the early hours of the morning," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the news agency AFP. "They were fired from the Gaza Strip and landed in open areas, not causing any damage or injuries."

Five Palestinian militants were killed in Israeli airstrikes more than a week ago.

The strikes came on the eve of a visit by the emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip. It's the first such trip by an Arab head of state since Hamas took over the territory in 2007.

jr/rc (AFP, dpa, AP)