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New exchange between Gaza and Israel; 1 dead

 A Palestinian relative reacts after an Israeli strike killed four at a house east of Gaza City, at the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday...
 Palestinians carry one of four dead bodies following an Israeli strike at a house east of Gaza City, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tu...
 Palestinians carry a man, killed during an Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, March 22, 2011...
 Palestinians carry a man, killed during an Israeli airstrike, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, March 22, 2011. On Tuesday eveni...
 An Israeli youth stands next to a house that was damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Is...
 Israeli citizens stand next to a house that was damaged  after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Is...
 Israelis stand next to damaged road after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Israeli town of Beershe...

APTOPIX Mideast Israel Palestinians

A Palestinian relative reacts after an Israeli strike killed four at a house east of Gaza City, at the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Palestinians carry one of four dead bodies following an Israeli strike at a house east of Gaza City, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tu...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Palestinians carry a man, killed during an Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, March 22, 2011...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Palestinians carry a man, killed during an Israeli airstrike, to the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, March 22, 2011. On Tuesday eveni...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

An Israeli youth stands next to a house that was damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Is...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Israeli citizens stand next to a house that was damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Is...

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Israelis stand next to damaged road after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, landed in the southern Israeli town of Beershe...

Gaza militants barraged southern Israel with rockets and mortars Wednesday, drawing retaliatory Israeli airstrikes in a worrisome escalation of the gravest hostilities in the area since Israel went to war in the Palestinian territory two years ago.
The Islamic Jihad militant group said it fired rockets at four Israeli cities to avenge Israel's killing of eight militants and civilians in Gaza the day before. The group said one of its fighters was killed Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike, and Israeli police said an Israeli civilian was wounded by rocket shrapnel in southern Israel's largest city, Beersheba.
A small faction allied with Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group claimed responsibility for the mortar fire.
The killing of three children and their uncle Tuesday in what Israel called an errant shelling dramatically escalated a recent flare in violence. Hamas declared a day of mourning Wednesday and appealed to all Gazans to take part in the day's funerals of the civilians and militants killed Tuesday.
Dozens of weeping women dressed in black gathered at the house of three of the victims. Pieces of flesh stuck to the outer wall of the house, which was pocked by shrapnel.
Relatives fired their personal weapons into the air in mourning.
Thousands, meanwhile, participated in the funerals of the four Islamic Jihad fighters killed Tuesday. Gunmen fired in the air, vowing revenge and rocket attacks deep into Israel's heartland.
Early Wednesday, before the attacks from Gaza heated up, Israeli Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai predicted that a military confrontation with Hamas was "only a matter of time."
"We are taking all appropriate steps in this direction," Vilnai told Army Radio.
Israel and Hamas have largely observed a truce since the Israeli military offensive in Gaza ended in January 2009.
Both Israel and Hamas are thought to be reluctant to engage in another war, after the 2009 conflict killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians and heavily damaged thousands of homes and businesses. Thirteen Israelis also died, and Israel's image was badly tarnished by allegations of war crimes that the Israeli government denies.
But although the war inflicted heavy damage on Hamas, the Iranian-backed group has replenished its arsenal with bigger and better weapons. Last week, Israel intercepted a cargo ship that it said was loaded with sophisticated anti-ship missiles and other arms sent from Tehran to Gaza.
Over the weekend, Gaza militants launched their heaviest mortar barrage against Israel in years following an Israeli airstrike, stoking a new round of violence.
The mortar shells fired Saturday were the same type as those intercepted last week on the cargo ship, Israel says.
_____
Barzak reported from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.


Updated : 2021-05-13 08:22 GMT+08:00