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Israel Missile Strike Kills 11 Palestinians, Injures 30


Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip have left at least 11 Palestinians dead and more than 30 others wounded. Israel's defense minister says Israel will no longer show restraint against militants in Gaza.

Witnesses in Gaza City say a yellow van traveling on a busy highway in northern Gaza was struck about midday by Israeli fire.

Captain Noa Meir, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces, says the operation was targeted at Islamic Jihad militants who were planning on launching Katyusha rockets against targets in Israel.

"This is actually the third incident in the past two months of terrorists launching the more advanced Katyusha rocket," Meir said. "This rocket has a range of 20 kilometers and has proved deadly in the past."

Captain Meir says more than 100 small rockets, known as Quassams, have been launched against Israel since last Friday. Among those killed in the Israeli air strike was a top rocket launcher for Islamic Jihad

Khaled al Batch, an Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza vowed revenge.

The Islamic Jihad commander says his group will continue to attack Israel and he condemned the deaths of civilians in Tuesday's strike.

Witnesses say a number of people who had gone to assist those hit in the first blast were struck by a second Israeli air strike. Palestinian officials say at least eight civilians, including two children were killed in the second attack. Also among those killed were three medical personnel on the scene.

Israeli officials had suspended large scale air strikes against targets in Gaza following the deaths of eight Palestinians, including seven members of one family, who were killed in an explosion on a beach in the Gaza Strip last Friday.

But speaking on Israeli radio, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said, because Palestinians had not stopped rocket attacks against Israel, air strikes are being resumed.

Israel's defense minister says restraint has not worked and now Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect its citizens.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Tuesday's attack, calling it an example of "state terror."

His comments came just hours after gunmen loyal to Mr. Abbas' Fatah Party attacked the West Bank offices of the Palestinian prime minister and the building housing the Palestinian parliament. Both institutions are controlled by Hamas.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have accelerated since President Abbas' decision to schedule a referendum asking Palestinians to vote on a proposal that calls for a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel.

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