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Israeli minister’s aide shot near Gaza

/ Source: The Associated Press

An aide to Israel’s public security minister was wounded by a gunshot Friday as he toured an observation point overlooking the northern Gaza Strip with a group of Canadian Jews.

The Israeli military said shots were fired from Gaza toward a group of civilians in southern Israel, and one person was moderately injured and taken to Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon.

A spokeswoman for Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, Mazal Baba, said the chief of Public Security Minister Avi Dichter’s office, Matti Gil, was shot in the groin and in stable condition. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Gil was moderately wounded.

Several militant groups claimed responsibility for the attack, including the military wing of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, the militant offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, and two little-known radical Islamic groups inspired by al-Qaida: the Army of the Nation and Protectors of the Homeland.

Israel Radio said Dichter and his assistant were touring the area with the group of Canadians on Friday to familiarize them with the situation in Israeli communities bordering Gaza.

Gaza militants have bombarded Israeli border communities with rockets since late 2001, killing 13 people and severely disrupting daily life. With Egyptian mediation, however, there has been a lull in violence in recent weeks.