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Palestinians: Israeli attacks killing dozens

JERUSALEM (CNN) — The Israeli military says its air and ground operations against militants firing rockets from northern Gaza have hit at least 15 armed Palestinians.

An Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said the IDF was unable to confirm if those targeted were killed, but Palestinian medical sources told CNN that 32 people were killed and more than 50 wounded since Friday in the area around Jebaliya.

Among the dead were at least nine militants, seven children and 10 adult civilians, the sources said.

Since Wednesday, at least 60 Palestinians have died, the Palestinian medical sources said.

Hamas security and medical sources told CNN that an Israeli airstrike early Saturday in northern Gaza killed Hamas commander Iyyad al-Ashram. Watch as Israeli-Palestinian fighting escalates

The IDF spokeswoman said the operations, close to the border near Jebaliya, mostly involved ground forces backed up by air support. Five Israeli soldiers were wounded, she said.

The Palestinian militans were seen planting explosives and firing at IDF troops, she said.

She also said more than 30 homemade rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza overnight, including six that landed around Ashkelon, injuring an Israeli woman and two children.

Another 19 rockets, called Qassam rockets, were launched from Gaza earlier on Friday, including one that slammed into a house in Sderot, slightly wounding a woman, she said.

Israel’s defense minister has said the Jewish state is ready for escalation in the confrontation with militants in Gaza.

The big military operation is actual and concrete, Ehud Barak said. We are not eager for it [but] are not deterred by it.

The Israeli military maintains it is targeting sites where rockets are built and launched as well as other militant areas.

The short-range homemade Qassam missiles are fired from Gaza into Sderot and surrounding communities on almost daily.

Sderot is a frequent target because it is near Gaza — about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away. Increased Israeli security has forced militants to fire Qassams from deeper inside Gaza, but the range and accuracy of the unguided rockets have improved in recent months.

Tensions have run high in Gaza since Israel reinforced troops around the region. The Israelis are looking to avoid a repeat of what happened on Gaza’s border with Egypt last month, when hundreds of thousands of people flooded out after militants blasted the border wall. Israeli officials have said they will defend the border vigilantly.

Border access between Gaza and neighboring Israel and Egypt has been greatly restricted since June 2007, when Hamas took over the territory.

Human rights groups have protested the blockade of electricity and fuel shipments into Gaza, blaming Israel for punishing civilians along with the territory’s Hamas leadership.
Palestinians: Israeli attacks killing dozens – found here.

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March 1, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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