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Gaza Militants Fire Rockets Into Israel, Straining 6-Day-Old Truce


Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired three rockets into southern Israel, wounding two people and straining a six-day old truce in the region.

Two of the rockets landed inside the Israeli town of Sderot Tuesday, causing some damage, while a third struck a nearby field.

The Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the rockets, saying they were retaliation for an Israeli raid in the West Bank. Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad commander and another Palestinian man in the city of Nablus before dawn Tuesday. Israel's military says the two men were killed in a gun battle.

Israeli officials called the rocket attacks a "gross violation" of an Egyptian-brokered truce with Gaza militants that took effect last Thursday. Hamas militants who rule Gaza accused Israel of provoking the rocket fire by raiding Nablus. But the group also said it remains committed to the truce.

The cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas applies specifically to Gaza and does not include the West Bank. Israel has said it must continue operations against militants in the West Bank to protect Israeli citizens.

Before dawn Tuesday, Gaza militants also fired a mortar into an empty area of southern Israel, without causing damage.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh Tuesday to discuss solidifying the truce.

Israeli officials say Egypt promised to keep its Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed until Palestinian militants agree to release a captured Israeli soldier as part of a prisoner swap.

But, Mr. Mubarak told Israeli television Tuesday that he believes it is "unrealistic" for Israel to link the soldier's release to the truce. He said it is more important to stop the deadly fighting in Gaza and southern Israel.

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