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Israel minister threatens to reoccupy Gaza

March 28, 2010 10:03 A.M. (Updated: March 29, 2010 10:43 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel will eventually have to reoccupy Gaza to topple Hamas, a top Israeli official warned Sunday.

Yuval Steinitz, a member of the right-wing Israeli movement Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's finance minister, told Israel Radio that "Israel won't allow Hamas to arm with long-range missiles," the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Steinitz's remarks came a day after an Israeli military incursion into the southern Gaza Strip left one dead and 13 injured, the latest in a string of clashes that officials have called the bloodiest violence since Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which ended in January 2009.

The funeral procession for Haitham Abed Al-Hakim Arafat, 23, a civilian who was killed in an overnight airstrike, was held in Khuza'a, a village that locals said was "devastated" by Israel's operation into the border town, east of Khan Younis. Residents said Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers withdrew from the town after partially destroying the home of Hashem Ad-Dughmah 200 meters from Israel's border.

"It was the only home left in that area," one local resident told Ma'an.

The violence followed an incursion that left two Palestinian fighters and two Israeli soldiers dead a day earlier. Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said its forces opened fire only after Israeli soldiers crossed 500 meters into the besieged enclave. Four Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in Friday's violence, among them a 10-year-old boy who sustained serious wounds.
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