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Palestinian rocket claims Israeli victim

Latest update : 2008-02-27

A Palestinian rocket launched from the Gaza strip has left one Israeli dead, the first such fatality in nine months. In response, the Israeli military has launched missiles at the interior ministry of the Hamas government, killing a young infant.

GAZA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - A Palestinian rocket launched from
the Gaza Strip killed one person in Israel on Wednesday, the
first such fatality in nine months, after Israeli forces killed
eight militants in the Hamas-controlled territory.

The rocket attack, claimed by Hamas, seemed certain to
increase public pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to order
tougher military action in the Gaza Strip, including a possible
widescale ground invasion.

Mounting violence could complicate peace talks between
Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority,
negotiations which the United States hope can lead to a
statehood deal this year.

"Israel will take the necessary steps to bring these lethal
rocket attacks to an end. Those attacking us will be confronted
by an Israel that is compelled to defend itself, and that is how
we shall proceed," said David Baker, a government spokesman.

Earlier in the day, five militants, senior members of Hamas,
were killed when the van in which they were travelling was
attacked from the air near the southern Gaza town of Khan
Younis, medical officials said.

Local residents who knew the men said some of them had
undergone training in Syria or Iran and returned home after
Hamas breached the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt last month in
defiance of an Israeli blockade of the territory.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas's Izz el-Deen al-Qassam
Brigades, denied they had travelled outside the Gaza Strip,
whose border with Egypt has been resealed.

Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip in June, struck back by
firing more than 25 rockets at southern Israel, and two other
militants were killed in an Israeli air strike on a launching
site in the northern Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

A militant from the Islamic Jihad group was killed in a
separate air attack east of Bureij refugee camp in the central
Gaza Strip, medical workers said.

Hamas says attacks from the Gaza Strip, including rockets
fired by its own militants and others, are a response to Israeli
\\military operations in the territory and the occupied West
Bank and would end if Israel stopped all such activity and
lifted its blockade.

No one had been killed in Israel by a Palestinian rocket
strike since May 2007.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli undercover forces
killed one militant and wounded and detained four others, a
Palestinian official said.

The men had been confined to a Palestinian security
headquarters as part of an Israeli amnesty for militants
affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, but had
left the compound, a Palestinian official said.

Date created : 2008-02-27