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UN chief chastises Israel at 'crucial time' in peace process

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Israel and Gaza militants have been engaged in a nearly two-week spate of violent clashes along the border that mark the worst violence since the 2009 Gaza war – and herald, some say, another conflict.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that it killed a Palestinian gunman and injured another on a motorcycle in a strike today on the Gaza Strip. The IDF said the men had launched a short-range rocket across the border into Israel Tuesday.

Palestinian factions, whose actions are not always coordinated with Hamas or each other, made contradictory statements about who was responsible. Islamic Jihad, a militant Palestinian faction, claimed the men as their fighters, but said the men were on their way to prayers at a mosque at the time Israel fired. Later, a group linked to Al Qaeda, Tawheed And Jihad, claimed the Tuesday rocket attack, Reuters reports.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces also bombed a smuggling tunnel Gazans use to evade the blockade imposed on them, witnesses told Reuters.

Hamas offered Israel a truce on Saturday in an effort to prevent a wider Israeli assault on Gaza, but Gaza militants and Israel have continued trading fire.

On March 25 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to use “great force” against rocket and mortar attacks, Al Jazeera notes, and on Sunday an Israeli air strike killed two Gazan fighters. The strike prompted al-Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad's armed wing, to threaten retaliation.

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