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Rockets kill 2 Israelis as Israeli strikes kill 26 in Gaza

Gaza violence escalates

Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza early Tuesday, hitting a pair of highrise buildings believed to be housing militants, as Hamas and other armed groups bombarded southern Israel with hundreds of rockets. The conflict escalated relentlessly throughout the day, and Israel vowed that its strikes would only increase.

The latest exchange of fire was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem.

Since sundown Monday, 26 Palestinians — including nine children and a woman— were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military said at least 16 of the dead were militants. During the same period, Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel, killing two Israeli civilians and wounding 10 others.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning in the evening that more was coming. He said after meeting with senior defense officials that Israel would “increase even more the strength of the strikes and also the rate of the strikes” against Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas will receive blows now that it didn’t expect,” he said in a statement.

In a further sign of rising tensions, Israel signalled it is widening its military campaign. The military said it is sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and the defense minister ordered the mobilization of 5,000 reserve soldiers.

Even as the two sides ramped up tensions, officials said Egypt was working on brokering a cease-fire.

The barrage of rockets and airstrikes was preceded by hours of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.



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