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Israel fires on Gaza killing militants as violence intensifies

The attacks came in response to a Hamas rocket attack on an Israeli school bus near the border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Israeli sappers inspect a school bus hit by an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip near the border between southern Israel and Gaza.
Israeli sappers inspect a school bus hit by an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip near the border between southern Israel and Gaza.
Image: Bernat Armangue/AP/Press Association Images

ISRAELI AIRCRAFT AND ground forces struck Gaza today, killing two Hamas gunmen and wounding seven other Palestinians in a surge of fighting in the region.

A total of seven Palestinians have been killed in the last two days with the Ma’an News Agency reporting that five Palestinians had been killed over night. More than 40 people were wounded across the Gaza Strip the agency added.

The attack was in response to Hamas, the militant group controlling Gaza, firing an anti-tank rocket at an Israeli school bus near the border, badly wounding the driver and a 16-year-old boy who remains unconscious in hospital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas, the Iran-backed militant group that controls Gaza, would bear responsibility for the attack, Haaretz reports.

At around midnight Thursday, with Gaza rocked by explosions, Hamas announced a cease-fire but the Israeli strikes continued, hitting Hamas facilities and smuggling tunnels.

Matan Vilnai, the Israeli Cabinet minister in charge of the home front, told Army Radio that Israel was engaged in a “war of attrition.”

The new round of fighting saw a potentially significant strategic breakthrough, AP reports.

After years of development by an Israeli defense contractor, the Israeli military activated a new cutting-edge missile-defense system for the first time Thursday.

The Iron Dome system scored a direct hit on an incoming Palestinian rocket aimed at an Israeli city, shooting it down, Israel said.

Thousands of rockets from Gaza have hit Israeli towns and cities since 2001.

Last month, a bomb exploded aboard a bus in Jerusalem, killing one person.

Israel’s attempts to stop the rockets have included military incursions including a three-week assault than began in late 2008 and led to death of over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza as well as 13 Israelis.

- additional reporting from AP

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