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Truce Collapses, Israeli Airstrike Kills Two Palestinians


Two Palestinians militants have been killed and an Israeli civilian seriously wounded in fighting in and around the Gaza Strip. It is the most serious outbreak of violence since the Islamic militant group, Hamas, took control of the Palestinian Authority 11 weeks ago.

Hamas militants in Gaza fired rockets at the Israeli border town of Sderot, the second such barrage in two days. The Hamas military wing ended a 16-month-old truce on Friday, after eight Palestinian civilians were killed on a Gaza beach, apparently by a stray Israeli artillery shell. Hamas said it will continue rocket attacks until Sderot is, in its words, a "ghost town."

The strategy may be working. Sderot residents like Batya Katari accuse the government of failing to protect them, and are threatening to move out.

"The government of Israel has neglected Sderot and sold us out," Katari told Israel Radio. "We do not want to live here," she said.

Israel responded to the attacks with an air strike, and Palestinians say a group of Hamas militants preparing to fire rockets was hit.

Moderate Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat of the Fatah party says it is all too familiar.

"Violence will breed violence, killings will just breed more of it and bullets will generate the same. And, we have been there before," he said.

The Israeli army has opened an investigation into the killing of the eight Palestinian civilians, and is trying to determine if an artillery shell went astray and hit a family picnicking on the beach. Commanders say that is a possibility, though there is not enough evidence yet to confirm it. They also say the civilians may have been killed by a Palestinian rocket that went off course.

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