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Israeli Missile Strike Kills 2 Palestinians - 2004-10-07

An Israeli missile strike has left two Palestinian teenagers dead and three Palestinians injured, as the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip enters its second week.

Palestinian medical workers say two 15-year-old boys were hit as they were walking to school near the Gaza town, Beit Lahiya. The Israeli military says the two were struck by a missile as they were trying to launch a missile at Israeli targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a special meeting of senior security officials, Wednesday night. He ordered the military to continue its Gaza operation until all rocket attacks on Israel are ended.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv quotes Mr. Sharon as telling the group that the forces cannot yet be withdrawn, because - although the militants have been weakened by the Israeli offensive - they still have the ability to carry out attacks.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two homemade Qassam rockets at nearby Sderot, Thursday morning.

Some two thousand Israeli troops, in hundreds of armored vehicles, have been patrolling the Gaza Strip for the past eight days, following a Palestinian rocket attack on Sderot that killed two children.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas faxed a statement to news agencies, vowing to continue its attacks, even if Israel pulls out of Gaza, as the Sharon government has said it will do by the end of 2005. The Israeli leader has said he is determined to crush those behind the rocket attacks, to prevent Palestinians from claiming the withdrawal was a result of Palestinian military action.