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Israeli airstrike kills 3 Palestinian militants in central Gaza

RIA Novosti

04/12/2007 10:57 GAZA, December 4 (RIA Novosti) - An Israeli airstrike killed at least three Hamas fighters in an attack on one of the Islamists' positions in Gaza's coastal town of Deir el-Balah, local television reported on Tuesday.

A Hamas-run TV station said 14 Palestinians, most of them members of Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of Hamas, had been killed in the last five days during Israeli strikes in Gaza.

The Israeli army confirmed the airstrike as a response to frequent rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli territory by Hamas militants. According to Israeli officials, Palestinians fired at least 240 rockets and mortar shells at nearby Israeli provinces in November alone.

"Since June [when Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip], Palestinians have been firing a mortar shell or a Qassam missile at southern Israel on average every three hours," the army press service said in a statement.

Israeli officials warn that the rocket attacks from Gaza could jeopardize the progress of peace talks revived at a recent U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference in Annapolis.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that before any peace deal can be brokered, Palestinian authorities must put a stop on attacks by militants against Israel.

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