Israel Pounds Gaza Targets

Attacks follow militant fire in heaviest exchange since truce
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Feb 2, 2009 3:40 AM CST
A Palestinian man prays inside a damaged mosque in the northern Gaza Strip. Gaza militants launched rockets and several mortar shells into southern Israel yesterday.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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(Newser) – Israeli aircraft pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip late last night after militants there unleashed 10 rounds of rocket and mortar fire on Israel. It's the region's heaviest exchange since a ceasefire began two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reports. Six explosions rocked Rafah, a border town near Egypt where Hamas uses tunnels to smuggle weapons.

Hundreds evacuated the border area after Israel gave Rafah residents a three-hour warning via cell phones to flee weapons sites. No injuries have been reported. The attacks came as Cairo reported progress in its efforts to broker a lasting regional ceasefire. Israel's prime minister has warned of a "disproportionate" response to yesterday's attacks, for which smaller Palestinian groups—and not Hamas—have claimed responsibility.