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Israel /Gaza flare-up yet again.

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Israel /Gaza flare-up yet again.

Post  Panda on Sun 11 Mar - 6:02

11 March 2012 Last updated at 00:14 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

Israeli air strikes have pounded Gaza for a second day, in the worst violence in the region for almost a year.

Palestinian sources said at least 15 militants had been killed in the two days of fighting.

Israeli says almost 100 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel since the exchange of fire began.

The US condemned the rocket attacks, calling them "cowardly", while the Arab League called the Israeli air strikes "a massacre".

The UN and the European Union have expressed concern and appealed for calm.

The latest flare-up began on Friday when an Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City killed militant commander Zohair al-Qaisi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), and two of his associates.

Gaza militants quickly unleashed a barrage of rockets toward southern Israeli communities.

Palestinian doctors said Israeli air strikes on Saturday killed one person near the southern town of Rafah on the border with Egypt and two more in Khan Younis.

They said that at least 26 Palestinians had been wounded over the two days, five seriously.

Israeli officials said rocket attacks against Israel had injured four people. They said Israel's Iron Dome missile-interception system had taken out 28 rockets heading towards populated areas.

Schools in several southern Israeli communities will be closed on Sunday, affecting more than 200,000 students, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army said it struck several targets inside Gaza including "a terrorist squad" planning to fire rockets.

It said the air strikes were "in direct response to the rocket fire at Israeli communities in southern Israel".

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "the Israeli army will hit anyone planning to attack Israeli citizens".

'Dangerous escalation'

The increase is violence alarmed world powers trying to bring peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis back on track.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington condemned "in the strongest terms" the rocket fire from Gaza, saying the attacks had "dramatically and dangerously escalated".

Israel says its Iron Dome missile launchers, like this one in Ashdod, stopped several rockets
"We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts," she said.

The Arab League issued a statement accusing Israel of carrying out a "massacre".

It called for a tough stance from the international community against the Jewish state.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc was "following with concern the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and in the south of Israel".

"It is essential to avoid further escalation and I urge all sides to re-establish calm," she said.

UN spokesman Richard Miron called the situation in Gaza "very fragile and unsustainable".

"We deplore the fact that civilians are once again paying the price," he said.
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Re: Israel /Gaza flare-up yet again.

Post  Panda on Sun 11 Mar - 14:07

2 civilians killed in Gaza airstrike, Palestinians sayBy Talal Abu Rahma, CNN
March 11, 2012 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
Palestinians inspect the damage at Rafah Refugee Camp after Israeli air strikes on March 10, 2012STORY HIGHLIGHTS
NEW: A second civilian is killed, following 13-year-old Ayuub Assilla, Palestinians say
NEW: Israel's prime minister says the violence follows Israel killing an "arch-terrorist"
Mahmoud Abbas calls on international leaders to bring a stop to attacks
Israel says airstrikes are response to rocket attacks from Gaza
Gaza City (CNN) -- Israeli airstrikes killed two civilians including a 13-year-old boy in Gaza on Sunday, Palestinian medical sources said, bringing the number of dead there to 18 in three days of strikes.

At least 35 have been injured in the attacks, which Israel says are a response to more than 100 rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel since Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Sunday that the new cycle of attacks and counter-attacks resulted from a successful Israeli strike on " an arch-terrorist who organized many attacks against the State of Israel ."

Two people were killed in that strike -- Zuhair al-Qaisy, secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, and Mahmoud Ahmad Al-Hanini, a Hamas military leader

"Naturally, this led to another round with the Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad and other groups," Netanyahu said, naming Palestinian militant groups.

Israel's military "is striking at them in strength. ... We have exacted from them a very high price; naturally, we will act as necessary," Netaynahu said.

Palestinians named Sunday's child victim as Ayuub Assilla.

He was killed near the Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza city.

The other victim was a 60-year-old Palestinian man who was guarding a farm grove in Gaza city, Palestinians said.

They were the second and third civilians killed in the weekend's violence, after a 51-year-old man was killed on the back of a motorcycle on Saturday. The other victims have been militants, according to Palestinian source.

Israel's military said the air force had "targeted a terrorist at a rocket launching site from which two rockets were fired at the city of Ashdod a short time beforehand, in the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was confirmed."

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Israel makes its "best effort to target terrorists and not the civilian population," but added: "We will not accept the constant disruption of life in the south of Israel and I advise all heads of terror to think well about their actions.

He blamed Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs Gaza, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the violence.

"Abbas must decide if he wants to conduct serious negotiations for peace or align himself with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and become a part of the map of world terror," Lieberman added.

A barrage of 83 rockets have hit southern Israel since Friday, injuring eight and forcing some 500,000 Israelis behind shelters, Israeli military and emergency services said.

An addition 30 rockets were intercepted by Israel's missile defense system, Iron Dome.

Israel, on Sunday, closed schools in the southern part of the country as precaution.

On Saturday, Abbas called on international leaders to bring a stop to the attacks. However, Hamas' armed wing threatened Israel over the attacks.

Israel "will pay the price" for its actions in Gaza, said Abu Obaida, spokesman for the Izzedine al Qassam Brigade of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged both sides to "avoid further escalation" and "re-establish calm."

"I very much deplore the loss of civilian life," she said in a Saturday statement.

CNN's Guy Azriel, Kevin Flower and Kareem Khadder contributed to this report

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