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Israel PM threatens to teach Hamas lesson 'very soon'

Jan. 21, 2014 4:34 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 22, 2014 11:49 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to teach Hamas a lesson "very soon" after recent cross-border violence.

"We foil terrorist attacks when we identify that they are in the making and we respond against those who attack us," Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

"If Hamas and the other terror organizations forgot this lesson, they will learn it again the hard way and very soon," he said.

His warning was issued shortly after Hamas said it had deployed forces in Gaza to "preserve the truce" following an uptick of rocket fire on Israel.

Over the past month, tensions have risen in and around Gaza after more than a year of relative calm following Israel's war on the coastal territory in November 2012 which killed over 170 people, mainly civilians, and injured thousands.

Since Dec. 20, four Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed in violence in and around Gaza.

Israeli army figures show eight rockets have struck Israeli territory since Jan. 1, and another five were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israeli airstrikes this year on targets in Gaza have injured dozens of people, mainly civilians.

Earlier, Hamas confirmed its security forces had fanned out along the frontier to put a halt to firing by various militant groups.

"National security forces have been deployed in order to preserve the truce," Hamas interior ministry spokesman Islam Shawan told AFP, referring to an Egyptian-brokered deal which ended the Israel's assault on Gaza in November 2012.

Militants fired at least one rocket at southern Israel late on Monday which caused neither casualties nor damage.

Another rocket at the weekend prompted an air strike on Gaza City on Sunday which wounded two Palestinians, one critically, with the military saying it had targeted a senior Islamic Jihad member who was behind much of the rocket fire.

A 12-year-old boy was injured in the airstrike, which was condemned by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights as an "extra-judicial execution attempt" by Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for seven years, which has severely limited imports and exports and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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