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Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza, no injuries

Nov. 13, 2012 10:03 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 4:28 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel launched three airstrikes on the Gaza Strip overnight Monday, Israel's army said, as border violence continued for a fourth day.

Israeli warplanes fired at a site belonging to the al-Qassam brigades in the northern Gaza Strip, and targeted an open area in the northwest of Gaza, Ma'an's correspondent said.

Strikes also targeted the al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. No injuries were reported.

Israel's army said it "targeted a weapon storage facility in the central Gaza Strip, as well as two launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip," a statement said.

One rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at around 6 a.m., an Israeli army spokesman said.

The latest violence comes as fears grow about a major Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian factions met on Monday in Gaza City to discuss Israeli attacks and threats of a wider operation in the enclave.

"If (Israel) is interested in calm they should stop the aggression," Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas told Reuters.

The Palestinian people were acting in self-defense, he said.

"The ball is in Israel's court. The resistance factions will observe Israel's behavior on the ground and will act accordingly," said Khaled Al-Batsh of the Islamic Jihad group.

Major escalation

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters the government was not prepared to forgive and forget following four days of violence, which saw Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers join smaller factions in firing more than 115 missiles into Israel.

"The matter has definitely not ended and we will decide how and when to act at the time when there will be a need," he said after meeting regional military commanders.

"I do not want to talk about the time or the means because it would not be right to allow the other side to have this information," he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to convene a forum of nine senior ministers later on Tuesday to decide a course of action.

He discussed possible attack scenarios with Barak and military chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on Monday night and some ministers have said the airforce may return to a policy of targeted killings of senior Islamist leaders in Gaza.

Top-selling Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth said Monday that the United States had given a green light for an Israeli operation in Gaza.

Israeli tanks shelled Gaza City on Saturday 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, and Israel launched an airstrike early Sunday which killed two members of Islamic Jihad's military wing.

Israel launched multiple airstrikes on the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday, with no injuries reported, and 11 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Monday morning.

Egypt mediation

A Palestinian official, who declined to be named, said Egypt had been trying to broker a ceasefire and although no formal truce was in place, Hamas understood the need for calm.

Israel has shown little appetite for a new Gaza war, which could strain relations with the new Islamist-rooted government in neighboring Egypt. The countries made peace in 1979.

But Netanyahu may be reluctant to seem weak ahead of a Jan. 22 election that opinion polls currently predict he will win.

The political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza's prime minister, said he believed Egypt's new president, Mohammad Mursi, provided "a safety net" for the Palestinians.

"The president of the biggest neighboring Arab country (has) said: We will not allow a new war on Gaza, and Palestinian blood is our blood," Youssef Rizqa wrote in the pro-Hamas daily Felesteen.

Reuters contributed to this report
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