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Israel Fires Missiles at Gaza - 2001-09-15

Israel's army fired missiles at Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip Saturday, injuring at least a dozen Palestinians and damaging buildings.

Israeli helicopters have fired missiles at Palestinian security installations in Gaza. Israeli ground-to-ground missiles also hit a police station in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

The strikes came in retaliation for Palestinian attacks against Israeli border police and a mortar attack on Jewish settlements in Gaza.

Israeli spokesman Avni Pazner blames the Palestinian Authority for not curbing the violence. "Violence is continuing," he said. "And since the attack on the twin towers, there have been more than 100 terror incidents in Israel. And it is obvious that Arafat has not given any order to stop the violence."

On Friday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ignored U.S. calls for truce talks and put off any meeting between his foreign minister and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, saying Mr. Arafat had not taken any steps to end the violence.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat says Israel is exploiting the terrorist attacks in the United States to escalate its military operations against the Palestinians. "If it's true that Sharon is vetoing the meeting and canceling the meeting, that means Sharon has bigger plans for an alternative to peace," he said. "That is the plan for escalation, more aggression, more bombardment, more incursions of tanks and more assassination."

Mr. Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had been expected to meet last week but never managed to work out their differences over the location and agenda of the discussions.