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Israeli air strikes hit seven targets, killing several Palestinians

At least three Palestinians were killed when Israeli aircraft bombed border tunnels used to smuggle goods between Egypt and the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip, according to Palestinian medical sources.

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AFP - Israeli air strikes hit seven targets in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip early Friday, killing three men and wounding another, Palestinian medics said.

The casualties occurred near Gaza's border with Egypt when Israeli jets bombed tunnels which Palestinians use to smuggle goods into the besieged coastal strip, medics and Hamas security officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed it conducted air raids in response to rocket and mortar fire into Israel, which caused no casualties.

The Israeli air force hit two smuggling tunnels in Rafah and another tunnel near Gaza City designed "for infiltration into Israeli territory in order to execute a terrorist attack," the military said in a statement.

The "terror tunnel" was dug a kilometre (less than a mile) from the border, it said.

A weapons-manufacturing facility in Gaza City was also hit, the statement said.

On Thursday, Israeli planes dropped thousands of leaflets over the Gaza Strip warning residents to steer clear of the border after Palestinian militants fired mortar rounds into Israel.

The letters, which were dropped over northern Gaza and Gaza City, warned residents not to go within 300 metres (yards) of the heavily secured border with Israel.

Gaza militants have fired more than 280 rockets or mortar rounds at Israel since it ended a devastating offensive against the territory on January 18, according to the military.

Before the war, more than 3,300 rockets or mortar rounds were fired from Gaza in 2008, it said.

About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the offensive which Israel launched on December 27, 2008 in response to persistent mortar and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.
   

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