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Israeli army, Gaza militants trade fire as fragile calm collapses

Posted on Oct 30, 07:25AM | IANS

A non-written deal brokered by Egypt between the Israeli army and the Gaza Strip Hamas-led militants collapsed Monday, after the Gaza militants fired barrages of rockets on Israel in response to Israeli incursions and airstrikes on the coastal enclave, reported Xinhua.

In a leaflet emailed to reporters, the Izzedin Al Qassam Brigades, the Hamas' armed wing, claimed responsibility for launching a barrage of mortars and projectiles on Israeli army bases in Kissofim, Suffa, Yad Mordakhai and Nahal Ozz in southern Israel.

"The barrage of mortars fired at in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip," the leaflet said, adding that "armed resistance" against Israel will not stop "as long as the Israeli occupation keeps its assaults on Gaza".

Residents in the southern Gaza Strip area said Israeli aircrafts spread flyers on the area warning the residents not to help the militants "who fire rockets and put you and your children, your families and your properties into a serious danger".

Israeli Radio reported that since last night, militants in the Gaza Strip had fired more than 20 mortar shells, projectiles and Russian-Made grad rockets at southern Israeli communities. Israeli army officials warned that the ongoing rockets attacks would urge the army to intensify its strikes on the militants.

Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, said in a press statement emailed to reporters that his movement will not have a cease-fire with the Israeli army "as long as the Israeli army keeps its assaults and strikes on the Gaza Strip". "If Israel stops its aggression, we will stop."

Israeli F16 war jets carried out on Sunday night and Monday morning a series of successive airstrikes on northern, central and southern Gaza Strip in response to earlier rockets attacks launched from the coastal enclave on Israel, with no injuries reported.

More than 20 rockets fired from Gaza and landed on southern Israel, according to Israel Radio.

Paramedics and security sources in Gaza said the first airstrike was on an empty building under construction in east of Al Bureij Refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, and no injuries were reported. The war jets hovered over the enclave at night and in the morning, firing four missiles on various militants' targets.

Paramedics and ambulances, who rushed to the targeted areas, said no injuries were reported but severe damage was caused to the empty building and to three other military training posts. The Israeli army confirmed in a statement launching the airstrikes on the militants' posts.

The renewal of the tit-for-tat violence in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the militant groups came two days after the two sides reached an aural Egyptian-brokered calm.

Ashraf Al Qedra, spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, told reporters early Sunday that since Oct 22, Israeli war jets and tanks killed nine Palestinians and wounded 14 others. He did not say if the victims were militants, but security sources said the nine killed are militants.