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2 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Strikes on Gaza

A Palestinian firefighter tries to extinguish a fire following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza City, early Saturday, June 23, 2012.
JERUSALEM - Violence has erupted on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Two Palestinians have been killed and 24 others are wounded. One Israeli was also injured.

Ambulances ferried wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Gaza as Israel launched air strikes. On the other side of the border, more than 20 Palestinian rockets crashed into Israel, bringing the week’s total to over 150.

Earlier Saturday, officials said a six-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in an Israeli strike today near the town of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The violence erupted Monday after gunmen infiltrated Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which also borders Gaza. An Israeli Arab construction worker was killed along with the two infiltrators. A militant Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attack and said the gunmen came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Israel says the gunmen are part of a terrorist network in Sinai which is assisted by Palestinian groups in Gaza. That prompted Israeli air strikes on Gaza and Palestinian militants retaliated with rocket attacks.

Armed Palestinian factions warned Israel to back off.

In a video published by Islamic Jihad, a masked gunman said that if Israel continues its attacks on Gaza, Palestinian fighters will respond with more rocket fire.

A million Israelis within the rocket zone have been warned by authorities to stay home and close to bomb shelters.

“It’s terrifying,” says Amram Cacoun, an Israeli in the hard-hit border town of Sderot. He says people do not feel safe, even in bomb shelters.

The Israeli government has signaled that it does not want an escalation in Gaza, but officials say rocket attacks on Israeli civilians will not be tolerated and will be met with a painful military response.