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Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip Kills 3 Israelis - Now Over 200 Rockets Hit Tel Aviv and Israel

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Published on Nov 15, 2012

Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip Kills 3 Israelis - Now Over 200 Rockets Hit South Israel and Tel Aviv

Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack likely to deepen a bruising Israeli air, naval and artillery offensive, the most intense assault on the Palestinian territory in four years.

The casualties were the first in Israel since it launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas' top military commander, followed by an onslaught of airstrikes and shelling by tanks and naval gunboats. Eleven Palestinians, including two children and seven militants, have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Gaza since the Israeli operation began.

Few in the Palestinian territory's largest urban area, Gaza City, came out following the call for dawn prayers on Thursday, and the only vehicles plying the streets were ambulances and media cars.

About 400 angry mourners braved the streets, however, to bury Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari, whose body was draped in the green flag of the Islamic militant Hamas movement. Some fired guns in the air and chanted, "God is Great, the revenge is coming." When the body was brought into a mosque for funeral prayers, some tried to touch or kiss it. Others cried.

"This crime will not weaken us. It will make us stronger and more determined to continue the path of jihad and resistance," Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri said in a eulogy. "The enemy opened the battle and shall bear the consequences."

Israel said Jabari's assassination was the start of a broader offensive, launched after days of rocket fire from the coastal territory. It was Israel's most intense attack on Gaza since its full-scale war there four years ago.

The fighting has deepened the instability gripping the Middle East. Egypt recalled its ambassador to protest the military operation.

Just days earlier, Israel was drawn into Syria's civil war for the first time, firing missiles into its northern neighbor for the first time in four decades after stray mortar fire landed in Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats resumed pounded Gaza early Thursday and about 60 rockets thudded into southern Israel as terrified residents on both sides of the frontier holed up in their homes.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two Israeli men and a woman died after a rocket struck their four-story apartment building in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi. A 4-year-old boy was seriously wounded in and two babies lightly wounded in the strike.

Gaza schools were ordered closed until the operation ends, and most of the territory's 1.6 million people hunkered down close to home, venturing out only to buy food, fuel and other basic supplies.

Hamas announced a state of emergency in Gaza, evacuating all its security buildings and deploying its troops away from their locations.

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets on several locations in Gaza early Thursday, warning Gazans to stay away from Hamas, other militants and their facilities.

The Israeli military said Hamas fighters and other militant factions, undeterred by the air attacks, bombarded southern Israel with more than 200 rockets after the operation began. Israel's newly deployed Iron Dome missile defense system, developed as a response to the short-range rockets from Gaza, intercepted two dozen of them, military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said.

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