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Israel Launches Air Strikes in Gaza as Truce Efforts Continue


At least one Palestinian has been killed and at least three wounded in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the violence occurred amid efforts for a ceasefire.

An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a group of Palestinian militants in southern Gaza. The army said the gunmen were spotted as they approached Israeli troops patrolling the Gaza border. Hours earlier, a Palestinian civilian was killed in an airstrike on northern Gaza.

Israeli forces on the border have been on high alert for the past two weeks, after Palestinian militants launched a series of attacks on cargo crossings that provide food and fuel to Gaza. The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, has promised more attacks unless Israel lifts its crippling blockade of the territory.

Hamas official Ashraf abu Dayeb said that following Muslim prayers on Friday, the Palestinian masses will march on Gaza border crossings to protest the Israeli siege.

Abu Dayeb warned that Gaza is a pressure cooker that will explode if the blockade is not lifted.

But Israel is defending its policy of reducing food and fuel supplies to Gaza in response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev says it is a two-pronged approach.

"The current strategy, which is a combination of surgical military strikes together with political diplomatic pressure and of course economic pressure, seems to be working," he said.

Regev says this strategy has prompted Hamas to seek a cease-fire. Hamas has signaled that it intends to give a positive response to an Egyptian truce proposal, and then the group says, the ball will be in Israel's court. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is expected to visit Jerusalem next week to hear Israel's response.

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