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Israeli Warplanes Hit Gaza Following Rocket Attacks on Israel

Israel says its warplanes have carried out more air strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip after militants fired two rockets into southern Israel.

Israel says one air strike Thursday was aimed at a Hamas militant suspected of being responsible for a bomb attack that killed an Israeli soldier patrolling the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday.

Palestinian medics say the air strike hit a vehicle carrying the militant in the town of Khan Younis, wounding him and at least seven school children nearby.  Gaza militants have fired two rockets into southern Israel since Wednesday.  No casualties were reported.

As violence flared, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the only way to stop the illegal flow of arms into Gaza is to set up a mechanism to allow legal goods into the territory. Speaking after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, Mitchell said the Palestinian Authority should be involved.

Mitchell is making his first official visit to the region for talks with U.S. allies on how to secure a lasting cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  While he held talks with West Bank Palestinians, he has no plans to speak with leaders of Hamas, who rule Gaza.

In other Israeli air strikes since Wednesday, Israel has attacked what it calls a weapons factory and smuggling tunnels linking Gaza with Egypt.

After meeting Israeli officials in Jerusalem Wednesday, Mitchell said Washington is committed to Israel's security and what he called Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats.

Mitchell also said there should be an end to arms smuggling by Gaza militants and a re-opening of Gaza's border crossings based on a 2005 agreement.

The agreement called for Mr. Abbas's Palestinian Authority to operate Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt alongside European Union observers tasked with preventing smuggling.

The deal broke down after Hamas took control of Gaza from Mr. Abbas's forces in 2007, prompting the EU observers to leave.  Egypt and Israel have since closed their crossings with Gaza to regular traffic, but have made exceptions for humanitarian purposes.

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told the Associated Press that Hamas wants to be a part of the international community and has no interest to escalate the crisis in Gaza or challenge the world, as he put it.

In a separate development today, a Spanish judge agreed to open an inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza in 2002.  The case involves an Israeli bombing raid that killed a Hamas leader and 14 civilians.

Spain assumes universal jurisdiction in such cases as alleged crimes against humanity and genocide.

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