Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Israeli-Palestinian tension rises amid rocket strikes

Reuters, JERUSALEM

Sporadic missile fire from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel yesterday for a fourth straight day, with Egypt trying to secure a truce and Israel warning it would toughen its response if the violence continued.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militants had fired 11 rockets through the morning, ending an overnight lull and adding to more than 110 launched in the preceding 72 hours.

One of the missiles hit a house in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, causing damage to the structure, but no injuries.

Six Palestinians have been killed by Israeli shells fired on Gaza, including four civilians, and 40 wounded.

Eight Israelis have also been wounded in the cross-border attacks.

“We have a full box of tools ... that we have not yet used,” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio. “We will need to toughen our response until Hamas says ‘enough’ and ends the fire.”

The Islamist movement Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, governs in Gaza. While it took part in weekend missile launches, it did not claim responsibility for yesterday’s attacks, suggesting it was looking to step back.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of Egypt’s diplomatic efforts said that although there was no formal truce in place, Hamas understood the need for calm.

The official said another group, Islamic Jihad, also acknowledged the ceasefire.

“The Islamic Jihad did not fire since last night. This means they have accepted the understanding too,” the official said.

On Saturday, a Palestinian missile strike wounded four Israeli troops on a jeep patrol along the Gaza boundary, triggering Israeli army shelling in which the four Palestinian civilians died.

In turn, dozens of mortars and rockets were launched at Israel and the military carried out a series of air strikes throughout the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system knocked down a number of the longer-range rockets.

Egypt has been trying to broker a ceasefire between the Palestinian factions and Israel, a Palestinian official with knowledge of the contacts told reporters.

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