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11 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Raids in Gaza

  • Robert Berger

At least 11 Palestinians, mostly militants, have been killed in two days of Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel is weighing even tougher military action.

Israel has launched a wave of air and ground operations in the Gaza Strip, in response to Palestinian rocket attacks. In the deadliest strike, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a jeep, killing five members of a militant group called the Army of Islam.

At least a dozen Palestinian rockets have been fired at Israel during the past two days. Israeli spokeswoman Miri Eisin says the situation in Gaza border towns is intolerable.

"Israel will continue to defend all of our citizens at all times," she said.

Last week, Israel declared Gaza an "enemy entity," clearing the way for possible cuts in vital supplies such as fuel, water, and electricity. Israel blames the escalation on the Islamic militant group Hamas, which seized control of Gaza three months ago, routing the forces of its rival, the moderate Fatah faction led by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

"The Hamas government is a terrorist organization-led government and there is no other way to look at it," she said.

Hamas defends the rocket attacks as legitimate acts of resistance to the Israeli occupation. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum described the Israeli raids and proposed economic sanctions as collective punishment.

"This is a type of violence and terrorism toward all of [the] Palestinian[s]," he said.

With nearly 2,000 Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza during the past year, Israel's government is running out of patience. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he is moving closer to ordering a large-scale military offensive in Gaza.

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