Israel's Ashdod Hit by Gaza Rocket for First Time

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired a rocket into the Israeli city of Ashdod for the first time, killing an Israeli woman and wounding two other people.

The rocket hit a bus stop in the city late Monday, reaching further into Israel than any previous rocket attack from Gaza.  Ashdod lies about 40 kilometers north of Gaza.

Gaza militants on Monday fired more than 50 rockets and mortars into Israel, killing two other people - an Israeli Arab in the city of Ashkelon and another Israeli at a communal farm, Nahal Oz, near Gaza.

Israel continued its air strikes early Tuesday on Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip.  In pre-dawn attacks, Israeli aircraft fired missiles into Gaza City, hitting Hamas ministry and security buildings, according to Palestinian sources.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said his country is engaged in "all-out war" with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Palestinian officials say Israeli air strikes since Saturday have killed at least 345 people, mostly Hamas militants.  A United Nations aid agency (UNRWA) in Gaza says 57 civilians are among the dead.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged Palestinians who live in buildings where Hamas operates to move out to avoid being hit by Israeli forces.  She says Hamas is holding Gaza's people hostage by using the territory to fire rockets at Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for talks with his Hamas rivals to form a united front against what he called Israel's massive aggression in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza to allow wounded Palestinians to enter for medical treatment. Egyptian authorities also allowed food and medical supplies to be delivered into Gaza through the crossing.

Israel's military declared areas around Gaza a "closed military zone," a move that in the past has preceded Israeli ground assaults into Gaza.

A group of international peace activists set sail from Cyprus Monday to try to deliver Cypriot humanitarian supplies by boat to Gaza.  The activists include a former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


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