Middle East
Israel attacks south Gaza tunnels
Air raids come after Palestinian fighters fire rocket into Israeli town.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2009 21:13 GMT

 A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit Ashkelon and damaged several cars [AFP]

Israel has carried out air raids in the south of the Gaza Strip in retaliation to a rocket fired into its territory.

Palestinian fighters had launched a missile on Tuesday, which exploded in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, the Israeli army said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in both attacks, but smuggling tunnels were targeted alongside another location by Israel.

Witnesses said at least three rockets were fired by Israel at the tunnels, which the Jewish state says are used to bring weapons into the Gaza Strip.

A Hamas military position near Khan Younis, also in southern Gaza, was hit, witnesses said. The Israeli army had earlier told residents to leave the area.

Israeli warning

Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, said at a security conference in Herzliya: "I suggest Hamas doesn't fool around with us.

"The air force is operating in Gaza as we speak. We promised calm in the south and we will keep our promise."

The rocket fired earlier from the Gaza Strip into Ashkelon damaged several cars.

The missile is the first to land in Ashkelon since Israel and Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, announced separate ceasefires on January 17 and January 18 respectively.

More than 1,300 Palestinians, at least a third of whom were women and children, were killed in Israel's war on Gaza, which had the stated aim of preventing rocket attacks into Israel.

Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, died during the 22-day conflict.

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