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Netanyahu says Hamas responsible for any Gaza fire

Dec. 26, 2013 10:21 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 27, 2013 10:39 A.M.)
HATZERIM AIR FORCE BASE, Israel (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Gaza rulers Hamas were responsible for any attacks from the Palestinian enclave, after deaths on both sides.

"We have recently been subject to attacks against us," he said at a pilots' graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim air force base in southern Israel.

"Israel holds Hamas responsible for all the attacks launched on us. We will strike at those who attack us, and at those who support them," he said in remarks that were also broadcast on radio.

Confrontations between the sides peaked on Tuesday, when a sniper inside the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli fixing the border fence.

Israel retaliated against "terror sites" in Gaza using warplanes and tanks, killing a toddler and wounding at least six people.

The sniper attack has been attributed to a small Palestinian faction unrelated to the Islamist Hamas.

An ensuing tense quiet has held, despite Palestinians in Gaza firing a projectile that hit an uninhabited area in southern Israel early on Thursday.

A military spokeswoman told AFP it caused no damage or injuries.

On Thursday night a second projectile fired from Gaza "landed in open ground causing no damage", according to a military spokesman.

Speaking at the same air force ceremony, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel would not accept the "trickle of terror from the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is sovereign."

The week before the sniper attack, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian scavenging for metal and plastic scraps near the border, and wounded at least 4 Gazans in attacks across the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

According to UNOCHA, 17% of Gaza's total land area and 35% of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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