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Hamas fires mortars into Israel as blockade extended
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Islamic Hamas movement on Wednesday fired several mortar shells, targeting Israeli border communities near Gaza Strip, as Israel extended a nearly month-old closure on the Hamas-controlled territory.

In a statement sent to the media, Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas said it fired nine mortar shells at Israeli army posts and settlements east and north of Gaza Strip.

"The attacks come in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip, the statement said.

An Israeli missile killed two Palestinian boys Tuesday in southeast Gaza Strip in a continuation of violence that flared up on November 4. The sudden surge of violence rocked an Egypt- brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel since June.

On Tuesday, Hamas launched a series of talks with Palestinian factions to discuss the future of the ceasefire which ends on December 19.

The first session of discussions involved Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders with the two sides ruling out extending the agreement.

The ceasefire calls on Israel to open the commercial crossings into Gaza Strip and cease military operations in exchange for halting rocket-fire from Gaza. Hamas says Israel did not open the crossings properly when the ceasefire was in effect.

Meanwhile, Israel kept the cargo crossings into Gaza closed today for the 29 days in a row, citing the continuation of Palestinian rocket attacks.

The closure forced the only power station in Gaza shut down due to lack of diesel.

(Xinhua News Agency December 3, 2008)

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