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Medics: 2 killed in Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City
Published Monday 12/03/2012 (updated) 14/03/2012 11:13
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Wounded Palestinian children are seen in a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip,
after an Israeli air strike on March 12. (Reuters/Ali Hassan)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were killed Monday evening in Israeli shelling east of Gaza City, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 25 since Friday, medics said.

Bassam al-Ajla and Muhammad Thaher were killed in an airstrike on the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, medical officials told Ma'an. They were members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a Ma'an reporter said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said warplanes targeted a "terror squad" that was preparing to fire a rocket at Israel. The squad had fired rockets at Israel in recent days, she added.

Israeli aircraft simultaneously shelled an area near Beit Lahiya wounding two Palestinians and struck an open area north-west of Gaza City, a Ma'an correspondent said. Israel also bombed a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, he added.

In a statement, the Israeli army said its warplanes targeted two rocket launching sites in northern Gaza and a "terror tunnel" in the south.

The shelling comes amid intense efforts by Egyptian mediators and diplomats to broker a ceasefire following four days of heavy Israeli shelling on the Gaza Strip.

The latest escalation began Friday evening when Israel killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees in an airstrike near Gaza City. Since Friday, 25 Palestinians have been killed and at least 80 injured including militants, civilians and children.

Earlier Monday, two Islamic Jihad militants were killed in strikes on Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and a 65-year-old man and his 30-year-old daughter were killed in Israeli shelling in Beit Lahiya in the north. A 15-year-old boy was also killed in Beit Lahiya on Monday but the Israeli army denied responsibility for his death.

Militants in Gaza have fired a barrage of rockets over the border in response to the shelling, causing no casualties in Israel.

Armed factions affiliated with Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah said they fired projectiles into southern Israel on Monday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said 42 rockets landed in Israel on Monday, reaching as far north as Gedera. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that rockets landed 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.

The violence has drawn condemnation from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for restraint. The Arab League also urged the United Nations to intervene and stop the conflict.

But Israel signaled that it would not halt what it calls "preventive targeting" operations aimed at stopping rocket fire and cross-border attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his Likud party in Parliament: "The Israeli army will continue to attack the terrorists in Gaza with strength and determination."

He also said the Israeli military was prepared to widen its operations and continue them for as long as necessary.

A senior Israeli military official told the Israeli news site Ynet on Monday that the army was prepared for any situation, including a ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

"We have everything we need and are ready to step it up if needed. There are many measures that we haven't employed yet," the army official added.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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1 ) carlos / usa
12/03/2012 22:19
While israels behavior is horrific and genocidal. This reckless violent country, israel, has nuclear bombs. israel threatens to bomb anyone they disagree with. israel threatens Iran on a daily basis. israeli proponents have even said it is a good idea to assassinate the Pres of US if it benefits israel. Can you think of a worse country to have nuclear arms?

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/03/2012 00:37
To carlos #1 'Can you think of a worse country to have nuclear arms?' Thinking about it. North Korea?

3 ) Business / Israel
13/03/2012 05:16
Iran, iraq, pakistan, saudi arabia, egypt, syria, libya,tunisia, turkey, nigeria, sudan, akgeria, lebanon jordan getting tired carlos, someone keep it going

4 ) @ Carlos #1 / USA too
13/03/2012 05:22
The media hides behing photos of civilians (above), just like the fighters launch their attacks among Gaza's civilians, so Israel is forced to choose between allowing Israeli civilians to be harmed, or attacking the rocket squads, even though they are among Gaza's civilians, so you should blame the militants when innocents are harmed !!!

5 ) This / Story
13/03/2012 07:46
Israel should use the "smoking hole defence." With triangulation technology the exact rocket firing location of each rocket should become a 7 meter deep smoing hole. This would stop the rocket firing abruptly. -signed Assad

6 ) Prince / Nigeria
13/03/2012 08:12
@Carlos
must you say something even if they are irrelevant to the topic under discussion.

Hatred blinds

7 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
13/03/2012 08:38
Strange, Carlos, but the Palestinians have been firing rockets almost daily at Israel for the past year. They target Israeli civilians and the UN, HRW and Amnesty all say that these are war crimes. As for Iran, please post any quote by Israeli leaders saying that Israel's goal is to destroy Iran. You won't find any. However, you will indeed find many quotes from many Iranian leaders including Khameini calling for Israel to be destroyed. I can't think of a sillier American than you at this point.

8 ) southparkbear / usa
13/03/2012 14:46
jackel #1, anything new in your hate world?
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