News / Middle East

Israeli Air Strike Kills 3 Palestinians in Gaza

Israel's military confirmed that it carried out the raid, but it gave no additional details

Israeli Air Strike Kills 3 Palestinians in Gaza
Israeli Air Strike Kills 3 Palestinians in Gaza

An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip has killed three Palestinian militants hours after Israel's prime minister vowed an immediate response to attacks from the territory.

Palestinian medics say Sunday's air strike killed three members of the Islamic Jihad group in central Gaza.  Israel's military confirmed that it carried out the raid, but it gave no additional details.

Earlier, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired several mortars toward southern Israel.  It is not clear if they landed in Israeli territory.

Palestinian medics also say two Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in a separate incident Sunday in Gaza.  Israel's military denied involvement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that Israel will respond strongly to rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, which have increased in recent days.

Mr. Netanyahu's office also issued a statement accusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of refusing to renew peace talks, despite what the Israeli leader called significant steps by Israel to advance the process.

The Israeli leader was responding to a warning by U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell that Washington can apply financial pressure on Israel to revive peace talks.

In an interview Wednesday with U.S. television network PBS, Mitchell said the Obama administration can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel under U.S. law.  Mitchell also said he prefers persuasion rather than sanctions in trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate.

Palestinian President Abbas has insisted that Israel stop all construction on land the Palestinians claim for a state in East Jerusalem and the West Bank before talks can begin.

Israel has received U.S. guarantees on billions of dollars of loans over the years, enabling the Jewish state to borrow money more cheaply.

The administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush reduced its loan guarantees to Israel during the 2000s, in response to Israel's construction of a security barrier on occupied West Bank land.

Mitchell's warning to Israel drew objections from two U.S. senators who were visiting Jerusalem Sunday - John McCain, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, an Independent.  Lieberman said any attempt by the Obama administration to deny Israel support "will not pass" Congress.

In another development, Israeli forces demolished 14 Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank Sunday, saying they were built illegally on a military firing range.  Palestinians say the demolitions have left at least 50 people homeless.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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