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Israel ready to 'escalate' Gaza strike

Israel has said it is willing to step up its assault on Gaza, after launching strikes on the territory for a second day. Developments are a test to Hamas, which seems to have been trying to isolate itself from violence.

A boy looks at what Palestinians say is a house damaged in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 11, 2012. An Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian militant in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip on Sunday as a surge in cross-border violence entered its second day, local officials said. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

Palästinenser Palästina Gaza Israel Rakete Angriff Gaza Streifen Gewalt

Israel is “prepared to escalate” its strikes against the Gaza Strip in response to militant attacks on the Jewish state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

"The world must realise that Israel won't sit by idly in the face of attempts to attack us. We are prepared to escalate our actions," Netanyahu said at a weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu’s comments follow two days of bloodshed on the border between Israel and Gaza. An Israeli airstrike killed a man in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip overnight, as cross-border violence spiked for a second day, according to local officials.

The man's body was discovered early on Sunday, said Palestinian health worker. Islamic Jihad said that the man belonged to its rocket crew and had been killed by an Israeli missile in Jabalya, which is located in northern Gaza. Palestinian officials have not confirmed whether the individual killed was a soldier or a civilian, however.

The Israeli army confirmed that it had launched an airstrike in the area, and the picture above shows a house reportedly damaged by the blast, the Palestinians say.

The man's death brings the total Palestinian death toll since Israel first launched airstrikes on Gaza on Saturday to six; Israel began reprisals against its neighbor after Palestinian militants Saturday hit an Israeli jeep on patrol by the border with Gaza with an anti-tank missile.

Contrasting positions in Palestine

Islamic Jihad claims to have fired 70 short-range rockets and mortar bombs at Israel since Saturday. At least one Israeli has been wounded, according to local ambulance workers.

The surge in violence adds pressure to Hamas, which has recently been seeking to isolate itself from violence between Israel and Palestinian militia in Gaza in a bid to better consolidate its domestic authority and improve relations with its neighbour, Egypt, as well as with other foreign countries.

sej/mz (Reuters, AP)