Missiles fired from Gaza as truce ends

Dec. 19, 2008 at 8:48 AM
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JERUSALEM, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The Israeli military will respond to missile firings from Gaza with airstrikes now that a cease-fire expired, officials said Friday.

The expiration of the six-month truce between Hamas and Israel was followed by militants in Gaza firing three missiles into Israel and engaging in sniper fire, reported Debkafile.com, a military intelligence Web site based in Jerusalem.

Shortly after the cease-fire ended, an Israeli army spokesman said, "Quiet will be met by quiet but we will not hesitate to respond to missile offensives."

Defense officials said Israel would continue air strikes against missile cells and Hamas installations rather than engage in a large-scale military operation at this time.

The al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for Friday's rocket attacks in which no injuries were reported, Ynetnews.com reported.

Some Hamas leaders in Gaza argued that the cease-fire should have been extended to avoid giving Israel an excuse to initiate a military operation, The Jerusalem Post reported. Sources close to Hamas said the militant organization eventually would agree to a new cease-fire, but needed concessions from Israel first.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel hampered efforts of extending the cease-fire by targeting Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank and by refusing to reopen border crossings into Gaza.

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