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Gazans Hold Protests on 2nd Anniversary of Israeli Offensive

A Palestinian boy holds a candle during a protest in the northern Gaza Strip to mark the second anniversary of Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza, 27 Dec 2010.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have held several anti-Israel protests to mark the second anniversary of Israel's launch of a major offensive against the territory's militant rulers.

Supporters of the Islamic Jihad militant group marched in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya Monday and burned Israeli and U.S. flags.

An Islamic Jihad leader called on the international community to force Israel to end what he called its occupation and aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Israel began a large air and ground operation against Hamas targets in Gaza in December 2008 in response to years of rocket attacks on Israeli communities.

Fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants killed about 1,400 Palestinians, hundreds of them civilians, and 13 Israelis. The fighting ended after 22 days when both sides declared cease-fires.

The Gaza-Israel border had been mostly quiet for the past two years, but violence has increased in recent days.

Israeli forces have carried out several air strikes on Gaza targets in response to rocket fire.

Hamas threatened Saturday to renew hostilities if Israeli attacks continue. The group has largely refrained from attacking Israel since the informal truce began.

Israeli army chief Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday his forces are ready for a new confrontation with Hamas if it becomes necessary.

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