Israel-Gaza conflict: Wife and daughter of Hamas leader reportedly killed in botched Israeli air strike

Mohammed Deif has escaped Israeli assassination attempts in the past

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The Independent Online

The wife and young child of a Hamas leader have reportedly been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Local media quoted an “anonymous official” saying it was meant to hit Mohammed Deif, the Islamic group's elusive military chief, but he was not found in the wreckage of his home.

Two women and a two-year-old girl were killed by the missile, health officials said, and a senior Hamas leader in Cairo, Moussa Abu Marzouk claimed the dead included Deif’s wife and child.

Deif, who is the leader of the Qassam Brigades military wing and accused by Israel of masterminding bomb attacks, has escaped numerous Israeli assassination attempts in the past but was left seriously injured.

Palestinians inspect the wreckage of Mohammed Deif's car, after it was fired on by Israeli helicopter missiles September 26, 2002 in Gaza

More than 20 people were wounded in a separate air strike that hit a building housing the offices of Hamas-run television channel Al-Aqsa TV.

A ceasefire planned to last until midnight on Tuesday broke early after rockets were launched from Gaza and Israel responded with renewed bombing minutes later.

Hamas is seeking an end to a seven-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has ravaged Gaza's economy, while Israel wants guarantees that the Islamic militant group will disarm.

Video: Ceasefire ends in Gaza

In nearly a week of indirect talks, Egypt appears to have made little headway in resolving the differences.

An Egyptian compromise would see the blockade eased, rather than lifted, and let Hamas keep its arsenal but back the partial return of ousted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to run border crossings and overseeing internationally-supported reconstruction efforts.

The blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports. 

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas and other militant groups from getting weapons, but critics say the measures have amounted to collective punishment.

Additional reporting by AP