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Israel air strikes in Gaza: Will Hamas rocket truce hold?

Gaza militants vowed counterattacks for Israeli air strikes, one day after Hamas-brokered deal to stop rocket attacks.

Palestinians check the damage at a site that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Sunday.

Khalil Hamra/AP

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Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes against targets across the Gaza Strip Sunday morning, just one day after Hamas announced it had reached an agreement with all Gaza-based militant factions to halt rocket fire into the Jewish state.

The early morning Israeli raids – which injured eight Palestinians (three at metal workshops in northern and central Gaza, as well as five at smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, according to Palestinian health officials) – were the most comprehensive in a single night of operations since Israel ended its three-week war on Gaza in January.

An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes Sunday targeted two weapons-manufacturing facilities and a smuggling tunnel. The attacks were in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday, causing no damage or injuries.

The border between Israel and Gaza has been relatively quiet since last winter's assault that killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, with just sporadic rocket fire and Israeli retaliatory attacks focused almost entirely on striking the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

Some 270 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel in 2009, compared with over 3,300 in 2008 prior to the war, according to Israeli military figures.

Signs of escalation?

But despite Hamas' Saturday announcement that the rocket attacks will temporarily stop, locals fear this morning's attacks and the more recent tit-for-tat violence may be reaching last year's pre-war levels.

In September, the Israeli military carried out its first targeted assassination since the war when an unmanned drone struck a vehicle carrying Islamic Jihad militants near Gaza's eastern border.


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