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In Gaza City, they buried the man whose killing started this latest round of bloodshed, the body of the Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jaabari, wrapped in a blood-stained sheet.

Senior Hamas figures stayed away, conscious of Israel’s warning that they are now in the firing line.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told euronews: “The Israeli attacks are aimed at breaking Palestinian resistance and the will of the Palestinian people. They will not succeed. Resistance is capable of protecting the Palestinian people and of teaching the enemy a lesson so they will no longer commit this type of crime again.”

The mourners had ignored warnings from Israel. With days of fierce fighting anticipated, the Israelis dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to keep away from Hamas.

“We’re relying on our resistance and we call on our mujahideen fighters to strike the zionists with all their force,” said one man at the funeral.

“It’s a dark day for Palestinians, but with God’s help it will be dark for the Jews as well,” added another.

Israel claims more 200 rockets were fired from Palestinian positions after Jaabari was killed. Police say the first Israelis to die in the latest violence perished when a building was hit in Kiryat Malachi, 25 kilometres north of Gaza.

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