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Israel Launches Missile Attacks on Gaza


Israel has launched air and missile strikes against buildings in the Gaza strip that Israeli officials say were used to launch rocket attacks against Israeli targets.

The Israeli air strikes were the first since last month and Palestinian medical authorities say a woman and her two daughters were wounded.

The strikes destroyed at least two buildings linked to the militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. The groups are State Department designated terrorist organizations.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army told the French news agency that Israeli forces will react with determination to prevent further attacks. All Israeli government offices and most businesses are closed to observe the Jewish religious Sukkot holiday.

The air strikes followed more than 20 rocket attacks against southern Israel launched by Islamic Jihad militants. Islamic Jihad says it launched the attacks after one of their senior commanders, was killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Israeli authorities say the Islamic Jihad militant was responsible for two suicide bombings that killed 10 Israelis, and that he was planning further attacks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticized the killing, saying it undermined his efforts to maintain an unofficial cease-fire with Israeli authorities agreed to earlier this year.

Palestinian security officials say they have moved forces into the border area to prevent further attacks by militants. Speaking on The Voice of Palestine radio, the Director General of the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry, Abdullah Abdullah, criticized Palestinian militants for their attacks.

Mr. Abdullah says Islamic Jihad militants used the Israeli killing of their commander as an excuse to attack Israel. He says all Palestinian factions should have a united front, and not immediately retaliate against Israeli attacks.

Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators plan to meet Wednesday to restart talks aimed at reaching a common agenda for a planned summit between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Wednesday's talks are expected to focus on efforts to reopen the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which was closed shortly after Israel completed its withdrawal from Gaza last month.

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