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MIDDLE EAST

Gaza rocket attacks renewed, drawing retaliatory Israeli air strikes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 9:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 9:11pm
 

A small armed faction in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel, provoking retaliatory air strikes and pushing cross-border violence into a third day despite a truce called by the more powerful Palestinian group Islamic Jihad.

The clashes, which continued on Thursday, have been the most intense since the Gaza war of November 2012. This time, however, casualties have been scant, with winter rains keeping many people indoors and Israel's Iron Dome interceptor shooting down some of the Palestinian rockets. Most Israeli strikes have hit unmanned militant facilities.

Hamas, the Islamist movement governing Gaza, has also kept its fighters out of this flare-up so far. The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, which often operates independent of Hamas, began the barrage on Wednesday after Israel's forces killed three of its fighters a day earlier.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said that a deal that had been brokered by Cairo to end the 2012 war was back in effect, provided the Israelis also complied.

"Following intensive Egyptian contacts and efforts, the agreement for calm has been restored," he said on Facebook.

Within hours, however, the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), a Gaza splinter group, said it had launched eight rockets into Israel. At least four struck open areas and one was downed by Iron Dome, the Israeli military said.

Israel's air force then bombed a PRC camp in southern Gaza and "three other terror sites" to the north, the military said.

There was no immediate word of any injuries.

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