Israeli PM threats war if rockets from Gaza continue

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JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened on Monday to start a war if rocket attack fired from Gaza continues, amid an escalation over the killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives.

The second day of cross-border fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad, an armed Palestinian group, threatened to spark a new round of violence, a week before Israel heads to national elections.

In a post on his Facebook page, Netanyahu warned the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, a movement that runs Gaza, that if the fire doesn't completely stop, Israel "will be forced to launch a plan for an extensive war campaign we have prepared."

He added to his post a video footage of bombings in the Gaza Strip, carried out by Israeli war jets in a series of airstrikes on Islamic Jihad sites over the past two days.

Most of the fired rockets were intercepted by Israel's anti-rocket Iron Dome system.

No casualties have been reported but one of the rockets hit a backyard of a kindergarten in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage. The place was empty due to the Home Front Command's instructions to temporarily close all schools and kindergartens in the wake of the abrupt escalation.

Jihad has claimed responsibility for the rockets, saying the attack was a retaliation for the killing of a member of the group near the fence separating between Gaza and Israel. Palestinians were outraged by a video footage showing an Israeli bulldozer dragging the lifeless body of the operative.

Overnight, Israel's air force struck Jihad sites in Syria, outside Damascus, and in the Gaza Strip. At least six people were killed in the strikes, triggering another round of retaliatory Palestinian rockets at southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. Enditem

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