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Palestinians Launch Second Upgraded Rocket at Israeli Settlement - 2002-02-16

Palestinians fired a Qassam II rocket Saturday at an Israeli settlement close to the Gaza Strip, the second such launching of the weapon in a week. The attack came hours after Israeli war planes fired missiles at Palestinian security targets at a refugee camp near Gaza City.

The launch of the Qassam rocket apparently came from the Palestinian village of Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, where just three days ago the Israeli army carried out an operation designed to stop the use of such weapons.

The attack of Kfar Aza, a kibbutz, close to the border with the Gaza Strip, increased the prospect for further Israeli military retaliation against Palestinian militants.

The Qassam II rocket has a range of eight kilometres, longer than mortars or other rockets previously used by Palestinians.

The Israeli army suspects that Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has carried out the latest attack and views the used of such weapons as a dangerous escalation of the conflict.

Earlier, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Palestinian security targets in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, apparently killing one Palestinian policeman and injuring a number of others.

The strike was launched a day after a Palestinian roadside bomb blew up an Israeli Merkava tank in the Gaza Strip, killing three soldiers.

Israeli troops also tore down Palestinian houses near the site of the tank blast, near the Jewish settlement of Netrzarim in the Gaza Strip.