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Israel Carries Out Airstrike in Gaza


Israeli aircraft have attacked a car in the Gaza Strip that Israeli military authorities say was carrying Palestinian militants planning to launch rockets against southern Israel. One militant was reported wounded in the attack that followed a warning from Israel's Defense Minister that Israel would not tolerate continuing rocket attacks. VOA's Jim Teeple has more from our Jerusalem bureau.

The Israeli strike followed a recent spike in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Sderot, the nearest Israeli town to the Gaza border.

Israel's Prime Minister warned Israel would no longer tolerate the attacks. Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Israel Radio that Israeli patience had run out.

Peretz, who also heads the Labor Party, says while Israelis want peace they will not put peace before security.

The militant group Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility for the attacks and vowed to retaliate for Israel's missile strike. The group did not sign a Gaza truce agreement with Israel that other Palestinian armed factions agreed to last November .

Meanwhile, U.N. officials say they are increasing security at U.N. facilities in Gaza, where Islamic extremists attacked a U.N. run school on Sunday. The group called a sports festival at the school that involved both boys and girls "un-Islamic" and warned of violence. A security guard was killed in the attack and seven others were wounded.

The senior U.N. official in Gaza, John Ging, says the problems with security there can be tied to problems with money.

"The bottom line is that security forces that we all rely on to uphold law and order have been without their regular salaries for well over a year. They are demoralized, de-motivated and it is basically down to that. This was predicted, it is predictable, and until there is a solution to the funding crisis that faces the Palestinian Authority and all elements of the public sector, we can expect deterioration in public serves, including security services, to continue," he said.

Most international funding to the Palestinian Authority was suspended last year following the Hamas victory in Palestinian legislative elections. A new Palestinian unity government has managed to get some funding restored, but mainly for humanitarian assistance.

Ging says despite the deteriorating security situation, the United Nations has no plans to curtail its extensive operations in Gaza. Palestinian security officials say the same group that attacked the U.N. run school appears to be behind a string of attacks on internet cafes, and video rental stores.

More violence was reported when members of a Gaza clan attacked the al-Aqsa University campus in Gaza City.

Monday also marked the eighth week of captivity for the BBC's Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston. He was the only western reporter permanently based in Gaza. Despite global calls for his release there is no information about his condition or whereabouts.

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