Israel-Gaza border ignites in most serious fighting since 2014 war

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By Lawahez Jabari, Saphora Smith and Yuliya Talmazan

TEL AVIV, Israel — The militant group controlling the Gaza Strip pledged to step up attacks if Israel continued “its aggression” as both sides exchanged fire in a flare-up that threatened to derail painstaking truce-efforts on Tuesday.

The threat from Hamas came as the Israeli military said it was carrying out a “wide-scale strike on military targets throughout the Gaza Strip” and Palestinians kept up their most intense rocket fire on Israel since the 2014 Gaza war.

Nov. 12, 201800:44

The flare-up has killed six Palestinians, two of them militants, and an Israeli civilian. It threatens to derail efforts by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar to broker a long-term truce and head off another major conflict in the impoverished and blockaded enclave. Some 70 percent of Gaza’s population are refugees or descendants of refugees, and a similar proportion depends on humanitarian aid.

The violence appeared to be triggered by a botched Israeli raid into Gaza Sunday that left seven Palestinian militants dead, including a local Hamas commander. An Israeli army officer was also killed during the incursion by Israeli special forces.

Palestinian militants have launched 400 rockets or mortar bombs across the border after carrying out a surprise guided-missile attack Monday on an Israeli bus that wounded a soldier, the Israeli military said.

Hamas — which has controlled Gaza since 2007 and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S. — and other armed factions continued to fire a barrage of rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, some eight miles from the Gaza border, as well as at other border communities.

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