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Israel launches multiple airstrikes on Gaza, no injuries

Nov. 12, 2012 9:42 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 13, 2012 5:47 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel launched multiple airstrikes on the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday, with no injuries reported, Ma'an's correspondent and the Israeli army said.

Fighter jets targeted two open areas in the northern Gaza Strip and a third strike landed in another open area near Rafah, Ma'an's reporter said.

Israel's army said it targeted "a terror tunnel and a weapon storage facility in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a launching site in the southern Gaza Strip," in response to rocket fire.

An Israeli army spokesman said 11 rockets had been fired from Gaza since Monday morning. One rocket struck a home in the city of Netivot at around 7 a.m., causing material damage.

Islamist militant faction the Shura Council of Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the Netivot rocket, with Israeli officials warning of a tough response.

"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."

Cross border escalation

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday that she was "very concerned by the latest escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel."

She called on both sides to "refrain from exacerbating the situation," and praised efforts by Egypt to mediate a ceasefire.

The latest airstrikes come after a 24 hour period of escalating violence along the Gaza border.

On Saturday, Israel shelled the Gaza Strip killing four civilians and injuring at least 25. Israel's army said it was responding to a missile attack on an Israeli military jeep which injured four soldiers.

Gaza factions fired dozens of rockets into Israel in response to the deaths, with Israel launching an airstrike early Sunday which killed two members of Islamic Jihad's military wing.

Two workers were wounded later when a plastics factory in northern Gaza Strip caught fire after it was hit by an Israeli tank shell, emergency workers said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that nearly 70 rockets had been fired into Israel since midnight on Saturday, injuring four Israelis.

Ceasefire efforts

Israeli media reported Sunday that Egypt was mediating ceasefire efforts among Gaza factions, with Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman saying that the country was "making considerable efforts to stop the escalation and establish a lull," Ynet said.

Both Islamic Jihad and the PFLP responded with statements denying that they had agreed to a ceasefire.

The PRC's military wing, the Nasser Saladin Brigades, later released a statement reasserting that a ceasefire had not been reached and that the group would continue with its "retaliation toll" campaign against Israeli forces.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the contacts told Reuters that "nothing has yet been formalized. Israel and Hamas kept their old positions. Calm will be met with calm and escalation with escalation."

Reuters contributed to this report
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