Violence Escalates on Gaza Border (NY) TIMES) By JODI RUDOREN and FARES AKRAM TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 06/24/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
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TEL AVIV — Despite a pledged cease-fire agreement between Hamas and
Israel, attacks escalated on both sides of the Gaza border on
Saturday, killing at least three Palestinian men and a 6-year-old boy
in Gaza, and wounding an Israeli man in Sderot, officials said.
Ayman Taha, a spokesman for the Hamas government, which rules Gaza,
said Saturday night that the Egyptian-brokered agreement, reached on
Thursday, did not specify “a certain hour for the cease-fire to take
“We will be committed to the cease-fire as long as Israel does,” he
said by telephone. “When Israel stops its aggression, our responses
to it will stop as well.”
Spokesmen for the Israel Defense Forces and for Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu would not discuss the cease-fire. But as two dozen
rockets rained down on the weary neighborhoods near Gaza City, the
Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, called a rare Sabbath
meeting of top aides to “determine the next course of action,”
according to a military spokeswoman.
Mr. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was briefed by General Gantz and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, and told them “to do what needs to be done to
protect Israel’s population,” a senior aide said.
The renewed fighting comes just after the fifth anniversary of
Hamas’s taking full control of the Gaza Strip, and amid an internal
struggle for leadership. Until last week, Hamas had largely adhered
to an informal cease-fire for more than a year, although militant
Palestinian factions had frequently fired rockets into southern
Israel. The latest flare-up began Monday with the killing of an
Israeli construction worker building a fence along the border with
Egypt, and attacks continued over the next two days.
Tensions had cooled by Thursday but picked up early Saturday morning,
when Israel struck two Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip and one
in the south. In the afternoon, the military spokeswoman said, two
suspected terrorists “about to launch rockets at Israel” were
directly targeted in separate attacks.
Palestinian officials said the first attack, around 1:30 p.m., killed
Khaled al-Buri, who was affiliated with the Popular Resistance
Committees, a group loyal to Hamas that claimed responsibility for
firing dozens of rockets and missiles into Israel in recent days. The
second, at 5 p.m., was apparently aimed at a motorbike rider in Gaza
City. But witnesses said he escaped unharmed, while the rocket hit an
apartment building, sending bricks onto the street that killed Osama
Ali, 42, and wounded 10 others.
And Saturday morning in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis,
witnesses said, an Israeli artillery shell killed Ali al-Shawaf, 6,
and wounded his father, who died later in the day. “The boy and his
father were sitting on the street outside a soccer court when the
shells landed,” said Ahmed Arafat, 20, a witness.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the Israeli military said on Twitter
that the boy had died in an explosion of Palestinian ordnance.
Israeli military officials said 24 rockets fired from Gaza hit
southern Israel on Saturday, part of a weeklong barrage of more than
150; 10 were intercepted.
A school and factory were among the sites hit, and officials urged
residents to stay indoors. Jodi Rudoren reported from Tel Aviv, and
Fares Akram from Gaza. (Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company
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