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7 injured as Israeli forces raid northern Gaza

Aug. 21, 2011 2:51 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2011 5:51 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces launched another round of fierce airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip Sunday afternoon causing explosions which rattled Gaza City.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a Hamas military site in Beit Lahiya injuring seven Palestinians including three children.

The attack came hours after an Israeli missile strike hit a group of children in the same area seriously injuring a 12-year-old boy, Abu Salmiya said.

Israeli forces have killed 14 Palestinians in the coastal enclave since Thursday, and wounded dozens more.

Tensions in and around the Gaza Strip have soared and residents fear Israel is planning a major offensive in the coastal enclave. Israeli Knesset members on Sunday urged the cabinet to respond to dozens of rockets fired from Gaza with an extensive military campaign.

Despite an unusually quiet night in Gaza on Saturday, after three days of bombardment people are afraid to move in the streets and security buildings have been evacuated, a Ma'an correspondent reported.

Political analyst Talal Ukal says he expects Israel to escalate hostilities in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. He highlighted that 120 Palestinians were detained in a major campaign conducted in the southern West Bank overnight Saturday.

Israel began bombarding the Gaza Strip after militants staged a series of bloody shooting attacks in the Negev desert on Thursday, killing eight Israelis and prompting a wave of bloody tit-for-tat exchanges.

Israel blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committee for the Eilat attacks, although the group denied involvement.

But Ukal said Israel began its escalation on the coastal enclave before the attacks in Eilat.

The Israeli government was facing a domestic crisis as thousands of Israelis protested against housing costs, as well as an external crisis on the diplomatic front as Israeli leaders tried to avoid a Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations.

Ukal said the only way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could avert these crises was by going to war and "creating chaos in the region."

On Sunday, Jordan condemned Israel for its "military escalation and operations in Gaza that have killed civilians as well as Egyptian officers," urging an immediate halt to the strikes in order to avoid regional instability.

Meanwhile, the Arab League urged Israel to stop hostilities immediately following emergency talks Sunday to discuss the escalation.
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