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Living under rockets: How Israelis are coping (+video)

A rocket from Gaza killed three Israeli civilians in the highest death toll from a rocket attack since Palestinian militants began firing homemade pipe bombs a decade ago.

KIRYAT MALACHI, Israel (AFP) - Three people were killed when rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi, which lies 18 miles north of the Gaza Strip. The rocket attack comes amid a vast Israeli operation against Gaza militants which began with Israel's killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari in an air strike on a car in Gaza City. Duration: 00:49
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A day after Israel launched its largest offensive against Hamas in years, retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinian militants turned southern Israel towns like this one on Thursday into a war zone, with constant warning sirens, shuttered stores, and the deadliest single rocket attack ever from Gaza.

After the initial heady reports about Israel's surprise assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaberi and the destruction of long-range missiles, the reality of an uncertain war settled in for about 1 million Israeli residents living within the range of fire.   

Though Israeli leaders said the purpose of the ongoing air assault on Gaza was to hit military infrastructure and deter future attacks, the goal appears far from achieved as rockets rained down in nearly every major population center in southern Israel, just as in Operation Cast Lead, the last major conflict in 2008-09.

The operation has "entered the stage of mutual attrition. The element of surprise has been exhausted," wrote military commentator Ron Ben-Yishai on the Israeli news website Ynet. "Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have learned the lessons of Operation Cast Lead and they are succeeding even now to launch Grad rockets even though dozens of aircraft are following after them."

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