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Violence Flares on the Israel-Gaza Border

Palestinians inspect the damage to a vehicle after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City April 9, 2011

There has been a flare-up of violence on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. At least 18 Palestinian militants and civilians have been killed since Thursday and several Israelis have been wounded.

Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded Gaza for a third day as more than 15 Palestinian missiles and mortar rounds crashed into southern Israel on Saturday. Several commanders from Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, have been killed when Israeli missiles blasted their cars. It is the most serious fighting since the Gaza War two years ago.

Violence has escalated since Thursday, when Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus, critically injuring a teenage boy. Israel says Hamas crossed a red line and it will pay a heavy price.

The head of Israel's Southern Command, General Tal Russo, said Hamas has been hit hard, but the army is not done. He said the goal is to restore peace and quiet to the residents of southern Israel.

Hamas issued a warning of its own. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that if Israel continues its "crimes," as he put it, armed Palestinian factions will broaden their attacks.

Both Israel and Hamas have said they do not want a major escalation. But for now, the attacks and counter-attacks continue and neither side is backing down.

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