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Amid cease-fire, Israel retaliates with Gaza airstrikes

By Nicholas Sakelaris
The destroyed home of Islamic Jihad rocket chief Rasmi Abu Malhous is seen Thursday after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE
The destroyed home of Islamic Jihad rocket chief Rasmi Abu Malhous is seen Thursday after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Israel's air force launched attacks early Friday against Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza less than a day after a cease-fire took effect, officials said.

Fighter jets and other aircraft hit a military compound that produces rockets similar to those that were fired at Israel early this week. The strike also targeted a command center for the Khan Yunis terrorist group.

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A cease-fire, agreed to by Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, began early Thursday but Israeli officials said the group's rocket attacks continued.

"[The military] considers the breach of the cease-fire and the rocket fire on Israel to be very serious," said a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, adding that the unit is on high alert and will continue to repel "attempts to harm Israeli civilians."

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Israel's Iron Dome intercepted two rockets, officials said.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in two days of fighting, and officials say nearly half were civilians -- including eight children and three women. On the Israeli side, dozens were injured.

Several Israeli schools within range of the rockets were closed Friday.

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"Following the rocket sirens in the area, the forum of the heads of the Gaza border councils decided that [Friday] there will be no studies at any educational institutions in the councils surrounding Gaza," officials said in a joint statement. "We are in contact with the IDF and are monitoring developments."

Palestinian protesters called late Thursday for more rocket strikes on Israeli cities.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza said fighters in "all military units still have their fingers on the trigger and are functioning in an integrated military system.

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"They are at the disposal of the organization's leadership."

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