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Israel Fires Missiles at Palestinian Targets in Gaza


Israeli military helicopters have fired missiles at suspected targets of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza City. The strikes came just hours after two suicide bombers killed at least 10 people at Israel's southern port of Ashdod.

Israeli attack helicopter gun-ships struck at metal foundries in Gaza City early Monday in two districts of Gaza City known for their support of Islamic militant groups.

The Israeli military says the targeted workshops were used by Hamas to make weapons including mortars and rockets.

A statement from the Israeli army says that the strikes were aimed at the infrastructure of "the Hamas terror organization which leads the suicide bombing attacks directed against innocent Israeli civilians."

Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed joint responsibility for Sunday's attack against the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The facility was hit by two suicide bombers, both residents of a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza. One blew up himself outside the main gate of the port, while a second entered the facility and set off his explosives at a centrally located workshop.

They were the first Palestinian bombers to break out of the Gaza Strip, which is sealed off with a security fence, and carry out such an attack.

Israeli police officials say that the bombers used high-grade plastic explosives not used before in such operations.

The police also said that the bombers may have planned to blow themselves up next to tanks of dangerous chemicals stored at the port, which would have caused far more casualties.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon met his top military advisors late Sunday, and ordered the Gaza raids.

Mr. Sharon also cancelled his first summit with Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia, which had been tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

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