Israel lauches airstrike on Gaza

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Israeli airplanes attacked targets in the Gaza Strip early Friday in response to a Palestinian rocket attack that killed a foreign worker in southern Israel, witnesses said.

At least four targets in Gaza were hit during the air strikes that started shortly after midnight, including a smuggling tunnel, two open areas and a metal foundry near Gaza City.

Israel believes that the metal workshop was used to produce rockets that Gaza factions fire on Israel.

There were no immediate reports about casualties during the strikes.

Israeli Defense Forces news desk gave no immediate comments over the strikes when requested by Xinhua via telephone.

On Thursday, a Qassam rocket launched from Gaza landed a Kibbutz in Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv, and exploded in a greenhouse. A Thai national worker died after being hit and seriously injured.

The militant group, Jund Anssar Al-Sunna brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The rocket attacks came as the Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, has maintained a shaky, unofficial ceasefire with Israel for more than a year.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on Thursday vowed to respond with "strong" means after the first deadly strike from the coastal strip against the Jewish State since the end of the massive Israeli offensive in January 2009. While, the Islamic Hamas movement blamed Israel for the escalation of recent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel's settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the reopening of a Jewish synagogue near Al-Aqsa Mosque in the city raged Gaza factions that called for a response.

Small militant groups in Gaza fired makeshift Qassam rockets at Israeli targets from time to time, causing property loss and occasional casualties.

Israel has been responding to such attacks with air raids targeting militants, suspected weapons factories and smuggling tunnels in the area.

The clashes culminated when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the coastal enclave in December 2008. The three- week offensive, allegedly aimed at halting rocket fires from Gaza, left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers dead.


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