Israel bombs southern Gaza

Attack comes hours after rocket is fired at Israel from the Palestinian territory.

    The Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed to have fired Wednesday's rocket at Israel [Reuters file]

    The Israeli military later said that a second missile was fired into southern Israel from Gaza early on Thursday, but that no damage or injuries were caused.

    The violence came as George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, prepared to head for talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, as part of a wider regional tour. 

    Rocket fire

    The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military arm of the Fatah faction led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, claimed responsibility for Wednesday night's rocket fire from Gaza - the first since Palestinian factions declared their own ceasefire with Israel.

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    The rocket landed at the kibbutz or agricultural commune of Re'im, in the southern Israeli Eshkol region, an Israeli military spokesman said on Thursday.

    The rocket fire came after Israeli jets carried out raids on tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border earlier on Wednesday - the first tunnel bombing since it halted its 22-day offensive on January 18.

    The Israeli army said in a statement on Wednesday that its air force had hit a number of "Hamas smuggling tunnels" in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack by Palestinians on a vehicle patrol the previous day.

    Gaza fighters had killed an Israeli soldier and wounded three others in the attack along a border fence.

    Shortly after the bomb attack on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft killed one Palestinian on a motorcycle in an air attack.

    Hamas confirmed that one of its members was injured in the attack in the town of Khan Younis.

    The exchanges are the first major military developments since Hamas and Israel declared separate ceasefires earlier this month following Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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