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Israel-Gaza violence escalates

Israel-Gaza violence escalates
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The violence has intensified in the aftermath of the deadly ambush of Israeli vehicles near the resort of Eilat.

Gaza militants fired at least 10 rockets into the Israeli port town of Ashdod, injuring six people, one of those seriously, local authorities said.

That came after Israeli aircraft struck Palestinian targets overnight in retaliation for Thursday’s assaults on a bus and other vehicles

Israeli military spokeswoman Lt-Col. Avital Leibovich said: “We in the IDF will not tolerate this kind of continued violence and we will do the utmost, with the restraint we have, in order to counter this kind of terrorism.”

Within hours of Thursday’s ambush near the border with Egypt there were Israeli Defence Force air strikes on Gaza.

One killed the leader and four other members of the Popular Resistance Committees, an armed Palestinian faction who the Israelis blamed for the attacks.

The Palestinians said a number of civilians were killed in the raids, including children. There were further air strikes on Gaza on Friday.

Nabil Shaath, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, responded: “We feel that non-violence is the way forward to eventually reaching a solution that ends Israeli occupation. But, in the meantime, we cannot possibly in any way accept the Israeli retaliation policy against our civilians in Gaza, which amounts to collective punishment and a war crime.”

Funerals have been held for the eight Israelis who died in Thursday’s assaults, which were launched via Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

That came despite stepped up efforts in recent days by Egyptian security forces, which maintain a fence on the border with Gaza, to rein in Palestinian and Islamist radicals.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the violence underscored the strong US concerns about the security situation in Sinai.