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Israel Launches Air Strikes on Targets in Gaza City


Israel has launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip in response to a Palestinian infiltration. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, there was also a surge in internal fighting between rival Palestinian factions.

Israeli aircraft attacked Palestinian militant targets in Gaza City. The army said it hit a building used by the Islamic Jihad group and an arms workshop run by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

Both groups claimed joint responsibility for a failed cross-border raid on Saturday, which was repelled by Israeli forces. Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, said four Palestinian gunmen stormed through the heavily fortified border fence.

He said the aim was to kidnap an Israeli soldier, but the attempt was thwarted when Israeli helicopter gun ships arrived on the scene.

Video pictures showed that the gunmen arrived at the border in an armored car marked "TV"-the kind of vehicle used by journalists. The army said one gunman was killed in the raid and three others escaped.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemned the attack.

Mr. Olmert said army operations will continue in Gaza for as long as it takes to block terrorist infiltration and stop the firing of rockets at Israeli border towns.

Palestinian militants say they will continue attempts to capture an Israeli soldier, but they are also fighting among themselves. Gunmen from Hamas and the rival Fatah faction fought fierce street battles in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. The clashes have raised fears that a cease-fire reached two weeks ago could collapse.

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