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Israeli-Palestinian Fighting Erupts in Gaza

  • Robert Berger

Fighting has erupted in the Gaza Strip, less than two weeks after Israeli forces pulled out. Palestinian rocket fire sparked Israeli air strikes. Palestinian medical officials said at least four Palestinians were killed in an air strike on a car in Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered a "crushing blow" on Gaza, after Islamic militants from Hamas fired more than 20 rockets at Israeli towns. Five Israelis were injured.

In response, the army said, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at several Hamas weapons factories and rocket launching sites in Gaza. Israeli ground forces are massing on the Gaza border, and the West Bank has been sealed off.

Israel says that, in the wake of its Gaza pullout, there will be "zero tolerance" for Palestinian attacks. Government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin:

"No doubt that any kind of attack against the sovereign state of Israel requires us to take very harsh measures to make certain that these attacks are stopped and not repeated."

Militants fired rockets after at least 15 Palestinians were killed in an explosion on Friday. The blast occurred as gunmen displayed weapons during a military parade at a Gaza refugee camp. Hamas blamed Israel, but the Palestinian Authority said the blast was caused by militants who mishandled explosives.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told VOA that Hamas should stop parading weapons, and abide by the seven-month-old cease-fire.

"Seeking revenge or violence will only add to the complexities, and will harm Palestinian interests."

Israeli officials issued a strong warning to the Palestinian Authority: if it does not take action to rein in militants, Israel will.
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