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Middle east

Teenagers killed in Israeli attack on Hamas militants

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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-23

Three Palestinian teenagers were killed during Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants Tuesday, as tensions soared on the border after days of rocket fire.

REUTERS - Israeli air strikes and shelling killed eight Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, medical officials said, in the deadliest day of conflict in the enclave in months.

 Palestinian medical officials said three youths aged 12, 16 and 17 who were playing football and an adult relative were killed by Israeli shelling, and four militants were killed later in an air strike elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.
 
The Israeli armed forces said militants fired mortar rounds into Israel and its troops responded with mortars of their own, and expressed regret for any civilian casualties. There was no immediate Israeli comment on the air strike.
 
Tension has risen on the Israeli-Gaza frontier in the past few weeks. Tuesday's death toll was the highest for a single day in months and Hamas swiftly threatened a possible escalation.
 
"This massacre will not pass easily and the Zionist entity should prepare itself for a tough response," Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said on the movement's website.
 
France's Foreign Ministry appealed to both sides to show restraint, after 19 Palestinians were wounded by half a dozen Israeli air strikes on Monday.
 
Hamas steps-up rocket fire
 
Hamas has stepped up rocket fire aimed at Israel after a hiatus since the two sides fought a war two years ago, saying its fighters had fired more than two dozen mortar shells and rockets at the weekend.
 
Israel has retaliated with air and ground assaults saying it was targeting militants firing rockets and mortars on its towns and cities.
The Israeli military has said more than 130 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel this year from Gaza, about 60 of them since Saturday.
 
In Tuesday's raids, Israel killed four militants of the Islamic Jihad group in an air strike east of Gaza City, Hamas officials and medical staff said.
 
In the earlier shelling, Israel's armed forces said it aimed mortar fire at militants shooting at Israel. Palestinian medical officials said the Israeli shells struck a house, killing four people and wounding 12, including eight children.
 
The owner of the house was inside and the youths were outside playing football, witnesses and medical officials said.
 
"Some of those who were killed were terrorists," a military spokeswoman said, adding that "apparently people not involved (in the shooting) were hit, and the army regrets this." She also said Israel "does not seek any escalation" in the tensions.
 
Palestinian analysts linked the growing violence to calls for President Mahmoud Abbas to heal a four-year rift with Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in a bloody 2007 struggle with Abbas's Western-backed Fatah movement.
 
Some Hamas officials were seen as worried that Fatah could regain control of Gaza if the two groups were reconciled.
 
Militants in Gaza often fire rockets at Israel but Hamas itself had avoided doing so or claiming responsibility for such attacks in recent months.
 

 

 

 

Date created : 2011-03-22

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