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Gaza Skirmish Threatens Cease-Fire


Witnesses say Israeli warplanes have bombed smuggling tunnels along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, despite a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The strikes follow Tuesday's attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli forces patrolling the Israel-Gaza border.

An Israeli soldier was killed when a bomb exploded near a military vehicle.Israeli forces and Palestinian militants have clashed along the Gaza border, leaving at least one Israeli soldier and one Palestinian dead. It is the most serious confrontation since a January 17 cease-fire stopped a 22-day Israeli offensive against militants in the Gaza Strip.
Witnesses in the Gaza Strip say Israeli helicopter gun ships fired on targets inside Gaza. Palestinian medics say an Arab farmer was killed.

Defense minister calls emergency meeting to discuss retaliation

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called an emergency meeting of security chiefs, and said Israel would retaliate.

Barak called it a painful attack, one that Israel cannot accept. He said there will be a response. He said he would not elaborate.

Hamas: lull in fighting is not cease-fire

Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza did not claim responsibility for the bomb attack, but an official blamed Israel for the hostilities.

Hamas, along with Israel, has halted attacks, but it calls it a "lull" in the fighting and not a full cease-fire.

The group wants Israel to lift its blockade of all border crossings to the Strip, including one with Egypt. Israel wants full guarantees that militants in Gaza will not re-arm and will stop firing rockets into Israel - which was the reason Israel launched its 22-day offensive.

Palestinian medical officials say the 22-day Israeli assault killed nearly 1,300 people.

Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza last week, but has kept them posted along the border. Israeli officials have said they are ready to attack Gaza again if Palestinian militants resume the firing of rockets or other hostilities.

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