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Casualty Toll Rises in Israeli Strikes on Gaza

A wounded Palestinian lies in Al-Najar hospital after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, April 8, 2011

Israeli strikes into Gaza killed at least five Palestinians on Friday, a day after an attack on an Israeli school bus near the seaside territory raised tensions between the two sides.

Israeli defense officials say they launched fresh aerial assaults into Hamas-ruled Gaza in response to new shelling from Gaza into southern Israel.

On Thursday, a rocket fired from Gaza hit a school bus in southern Israel, wounding the bus driver and a 16-year-old boy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that the school bus attack "crossed the line."

Hamas militants declared a cease-fire late Thursday to stop the escalating strikes, but it did not slow down the Israeli bombing campaign targeting buildings and smuggling tunnels in Gaza. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed in strikes over the past two days.

On Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu said at least two rockets were shot down by Israel's new "Iron Dome" missile defense system.

The interceptor missiles are designed to destroy rockets and mortars fired within a range of five to 70 kilometers. The system was deployed in response to a rise in attacks from Gaza militants.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.