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Israeli air force attacks Gaza Strip after rocket fire

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Israeli air force (IAF) attacked targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday, following rocket fire from the Palestinian territory into southern Israel, sources from both sides of the conflict said.

"In response to the numerous rockets launched at Israel in the past several the hours, IAF aircraft targeted terrorist infrastructure including two weapon storage facilities in the central Gaza Strip and a rocket launch site in the southern Gaza Strip. IAF pilots reported accurate strikes on the targets," the army said in a statement.

Palestinian witnesses said the air raids hit uninhabited areas and caused no injuries.

Late Sunday two Palestinian rockets landed in southern Israel, without causing any damage or injury, according to Israeli military sources.

Two other rockets were intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" defence system, the army said in a statement.

The Israeli army said the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza were "accountable" for the rocket attacks, although no group claimed responsibility.

The Kerem Shalom goods crossing, reserved for trade between Israel and the Gaza Strip, will be closed until further notice following the attacks, the army said in its statement.

Speaking to public radio on Monday morning, head of the parliamentary foreign and defence committee Avigdor Lieberman said Israel should consider reoccupying the Gaza Strip and "cleansing" it.

"In another two years, Hamas will have thousands of rockets that could reach Tel Aviv and beyond," said the former foreign minister who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu party. "We will find ourselves in a reality that they have all kinds of aircraft and rockets, Hamas is not losing time."

"Since Hamas has not intention to recognise Israel or coexist in peace or accept the Jewish presence in Israel, there will be no alternative and eventually Israel will have to seriously consider the possibility of occupying all of the Strip and carrying out a serious cleansing," he said.

Israel seized Gaza from Egypt in 1967, and in 2005 unilaterally withdrew from it.

"It's not simple, but on the long run there will be no choice if we want to see a different reality there," Lieberman said of Gaza.

The latest exchange of fire came as a row erupted between Hamas and the radical Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad severed contacts with Hamas after a commander in its military wing died of wounds sustained in a police shooting, a leader of the radical group told AFP.

Islamic Jihad claims to have 8,000 fighters in its military wing, making it the second largest armed group in Gaza behind only Hamas itself.

In recent months there has been an uptick in rocket fire on southern Israel after more than three months of complete quiet following a deadly confrontation last November which ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce.

Last week on two occasions Gaza militants fired projectiles at Israel which however landed within the Gaza Strip.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130624/israeli-air-force-attacks-gaza-strip-after-rocket-fire-0