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Israeli airstrikes killed six Palestinian terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip.

Five Islamic Jihad members died Tuesday when their car was struck by a missile near Rafah, a town on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Another was killed in a separate airstrike in central Gaza.

Military officials confirmed the first strike but had no immediate details on why the men were targeted. Ynet reported that the five gunmen were involved in the kidnapping into Gaza of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, and also were connected to the abduction of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in March 2007.

The Jerusalem Post reported that they were planning a large-scale terrorist attack to stymie negotiations on a Gaza-Israel truce.

The deaths came as Israel intensified efforts to clinch a truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers through Egyptian mediation.

Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge its slain members, raising the prospect of redoubled Palestinian shelling attacks across the Gaza border, which would undermine any cease-fire reached.

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