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Militants in Gaza fire missiles deep into Israel

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a new wave of rockets that landed deep inside Israel on Thursday, defying Israeli retaliatory attacks and threats.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Hamas for the attack and vowed to strike back.

"Israel will not tolerate these terror attacks, and we will not allow terror to rise once again in the region," he said.

His tough stance was backed by visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said that no sovereign state could tolerate rockets fired at its people. "Israel, like all nations, has the right to self-defense and to bring to justice the perpetrators of these repugnant attacks," Gates said.

Also Thursday, President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer condolences. The White House said Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel's security.

Israeli police said Gaza militants fired 10 rockets and mortars toward Israel Thursday, including two rockets that exploded north of the city of Ashdod, a main Mediterranean port city about 20 miles north of Gaza — a first since Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers reached an unofficial truce after a three-week war that ended in January 2009. Israeli airstrikes hit a number of Gaza targets in retaliation throughout the day.

Neither side reported injuries or said they wanted a new fight. But the new hostilities could easily spin out of control, especially if civilian deaths mount.

Wednesday's bombing killed a British tourist, and five members of a Jewish family died while they slept in a West Bank settlement earlier this month. Israel has blamed Palestinians for both attacks.

Also this week, Israeli shelling killed three children and their uncle in Gaza. The army said it was targeting militants.

Militants in Gaza fire missiles deep into Israel 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 9:19pm]
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