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Israel says it may increase attacks on the Gaza Strip, as tit-for-tat violence over the weekend threatens to escalate the tense relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

Militants in Gaza launched dozens of short-range missiles into southern Israeli border towns. One injured four soldiers as it hit a military jeep that was patrolling near the border.

Perhaps mindful of elections on January 22, conservative Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning of stronger retaliation.

“The world must understand that Israel will not sit idly by while attempts are made to attack us. We are prepared to escalate our response,” he said.

As well as two militants, four civilians are dead and at least thirty-two others have been wounded in ground and air strikes in and around Gaza, as Tel Aviv strikes back.

Israel is blaming Hamas for the recent violence, but the islamist group says Netanyahu is launching attacks against innocent people.

“This is a very dangerous escalation. Israel is aiming at, targeting and killing civilians. We cannot stay silent and will never accept what Israel has imposed on Gaza, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

There have also been fighting words from Palestinian militants, who have warned Israelis living near the border not to stray far from their bomb shelters.

There is hope the situation will not spiral into a repeat of the three-week-long Gaza War which started in December 2008.

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