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Fire Exchanges Between Israel, Gaza Militants Continue

RIA Novosti

06:17 18/11/2012

MOSCOW, November 18 (RIA Novosti) - Exchanges of fire continue between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and militants in Gaza.

On Saturday, Israel struck "over 200 targets, including over 120 underground rocket launchers and more than 20 smuggling tunnels in Rafah," destroying Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh's office, according to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

British broadcaster BBC reported that militants from the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets into Israel during the day, and that one of them was aimed at Tel Aviv but was intercepted. The Jerusalem Post said the Iron Dome system "intercepted two Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles aimed at Tel Aviv" on Saturday. The missile attack was the third on the heavily populated central city in as many days, the newspaper said.

The IDF reported on Sunday that terror tunnels in Gaza had been targeted.

“A short while ago, the IDF targeted two smuggling tunnels belonging to terror groups in Gaza,” the Israeli military said on its website.

The IDF also said that since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on October 14, “over 500 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have struck Israel,” and added that the Iron Dome Active Missile Defense System has in addition “intercepted 257 rockets, preventing them from striking populated areas.”

“Since the operation began on Wednesday, the IDF has targeted approximately 950 terror sites in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

UAE-based TV news channel Al Arabiya on Sunday quoted Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi as saying Saturday it is possible that radical Islamist group Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Israel may reach “a ceasefire soon.”

“There are some indications that there could be a ceasefire soon,” the channel quoted Mursi as saying at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, Mursi added that nothing could be guaranteed.

Arab ministers said in a statement on Saturday after an Arab League meeting in Cairo that they agreed to back Egypt’s efforts to secure a truce that would end Israel’s operation in Gaza.

At least 40 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Israel eliminated Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, killing al-Jabari and attacking hundreds of rocket-launching sites, ammunition depots and “terrorist” cells that belong to radical Islamist groups operating in Gaza, primarily Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In a sign of further escalation, the Israeli cabinet has authorized the military to mobilize up to 75,000 reservists in anticipation of a possible ground offensive on Gaza. Two elite army brigades have completed the preparation to enter the Palestinian enclave “if necessary,” according to the military.

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