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Israel Hits Hamas Squad Allegedly Planning Kidnap

Palestinians surround the wreckage of a vehicle following an Israeli airstrike that killed three of Hamas militants near Deir Al Balah, central Gaza Strip, April 2, 2011

Tensions are rising again on the Israel-Gaza border following a deadly Israeli air strike.

Israeli aircraft blasted a car in the Gaza Strip, killing three fighters from the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas. The Israeli army said the Palestinians planned to kidnap Israelis in Israel, and at the Red Sea resorts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, during the Passover holiday later this month. Hamas officials confirmed the attack and the three deaths and vowed revenge.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum described the attack as an Israeli "crime" and "state terrorism." He warned that Israel was initiating a new round of violence.

Fighting escalated last month, with Gaza militants firing dozens of rockets and mortars across the border and Israel responding with air strikes. Hamas accused Israel of violating an informal cease-fire declared by armed Palestinian groups a week ago.

Israeli analyst Yoni Ben Menachem says Israel has to act, even if it brings an escalation. "Israel will continue the efforts to prevent terrorist attacks from Gaza, and this might become a daily thing: small attacks from Gaza towards Israel and Israeli retaliations," he said.

A joint statement by militant factions in Gaza said, "Palestinian blood has a heavy price and Israel should prepare for Palestinian fury."

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