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Israel Launches Raids in Gaza in Response to Cross-Border Attack

Four Palestinian civilians and two militants have been killed in raids by Israeli air and ground forces in the Gaza Strip. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel was retaliating for a deadly Palestinian attack earlier this week.

Israeli attack helicopters targeted gunmen from the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. Ground forces also moved across the border in tanks and armored personnel carriers, prompting exchanges of fire with Palestinian militants.

There were casualties among Palestinian militants and civilians.

The raids came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to keep hitting Hamas until it is no longer capable of attacking Israeli civilians.

He said Hamas is responsible for all the attacks from Gaza and will bear the consequences.

Mr. Olmert's threats came in response to a Palestinian cross-border raid on Wednesday, in which gunmen targeted a fuel depot that supplies Gaza and killed two Israeli civilians. Israeli spokesman Arieh Mekel said Hamas is trying to force Israel to cut off fuel supplies to Gaza, so the world will blame the Jewish state for the ensuing humanitarian crisis.

"They don't care," said Mekel. "I mean they sacrifice the well-being of their own people in order to kill some Jews. This is their goal."

Palestinian militants said the raid on the fuel depot was in protest against Israeli fuel cuts to Gaza and a crippling blockade, imposed in response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

Appearing on Arabic television, a masked militant in camouflage said the Palestinians will continue to strike at Israel everywhere and with all their might until the siege is lifted.