Israel kills seven in fourth day of violence | News | DW | 12.03.2012
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Israel kills seven in fourth day of violence

The latest round of violence between Israel and Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip entered a fourth day, with Israel launching airstrikes that killed seven people. Twenty-five people have died since Friday.

Israeli airstrikes killed seven people in the Gaza Strip on Monday. The attacks killed four members of the militant group Islamic Jihad.

Earlier on Monday a teenage boy was killed, as well as a 65-year-old-man and his 35-year-old daughter at the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, according to medical officials, bringing the death toll to 25 as cross border violence focused around the Gaza Strip continued into a fourth day.

The Israeli army said it had launched six airstrikes overnight, targeting "a weapons storage facility and four rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a rocket launching site in the southern Gaza Strip."

Two of the militants were killed late on Monday.

"We celebrate the two martyred jihad fighters Bassam al-Ajla and Mohammed Dahir," Islamic Jihad said in a statement.

Islamic Jihad said that the earlier strikes had killed a fighter who was trying to launch a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel. Another militant was killed and three were wounded when their motorized rickshaw was blown up, the group said.

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Airstrikes claim more lives in Gaza

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the news agency AFP Monday morning that 11 rockets had been fired into Israel overnight, one of which damaged a kibbutz near the Gaza border. Rosenfeld said that 50 rockets had hit southern Israel on Sunday, while Palestinians reported three dead, including a 12-year-old boy.

More than 65 Palestinians were injured in the weekend violence, Salmia said.

Vicious cycle

The latest round of tit-for-tat violence, the worst in months, began on Friday when Israel launched an airstrike that killed Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). The PRC is an umbrella group of activists and militants from various Palestinian factions.

"I have given orders to strike all those who plan on attacking us," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a tour of southern Israel, public radio reported.

"The Israeli army has already dealt heavy blows to the terrorist organizations," Netanyahu said

The Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has sought to broker a ceasefire via the Egyptian government. Although the group issued statements on Sunday supporting those firing the rockets, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that "the brothers in Egypt are working around the clock to stop the [Israeli] aggression."

Talk of escalation

The Israeli government, meanwhile, has said that it wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008-2009 ground assault on the Gaza Strip that left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

"Israel is not keen to see an escalation, Israel is not keen to hurt innocents - Israel is absolutely opposed to this," Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said

"For now, it [fighting] is on this kind of scale," Yishai told Israel's Army Radio. "But if it will prove protracted, then without a doubt there will be a powerful, painful blow so that this will not continue."

Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, vowed that "operations will continue whatever the price," warning that "escalation will be met with escalation, and what is coming is even greater."

Gazamilitants have fired more than 120 rockets into Israel since Friday, while Israel has launched some 35 airstrikes.

ncy,sjt/slk (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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