Israel and Palestinian militants traded rocket fire for a second day today, with as many as 15 deaths reported since Friday afternoon.
Reuters reported that Israeli war planes killed five more militants in Gaza today: one in a vehicle near the Egyptian border, two others who rode a motorcycle together and two more in a pre-dawn attack.
The most recent escalation started when, according to reports, unmanned drone attacks killed militant leader Zuhair al-Qaissi and an associate as they drove in Gaza City.
Palestinians responded by sending more than 100 rockets into Israel, with reports of 4 injuries. The Israeli "Iron Dome" missile defense program is credited with intercepting most of the rockets with others landing in empty fields.
In response, the Israeli Air Force struck what it described as a Hamas munitions plant in Gaza, according to the newspaper Haaretz, which published this IAF video of the attack:
However, school was cancelled on Sunday, and Israelis were told to stay indoors.
Qaissi is leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, who Israel said was plotting a terrorist attack.
“This round of fighting began due to the targeted killing of a PRC operative who was in the midst of planning another attack,” Israel defense minister Matan Vilnai told YNetnews.com. “It was clear to the security establishment that this would lead to an escalation, but targeting him was necessary.”
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A spokesman for the armed wing of Islamic Jihad vowed revenge, The New York Times reported.
“We will not accept a truce in exchange for our deaths,” Abu Ahmad said, according to The Times.
Both Egyptian and United Nations officials urged both sides to remain calm.
Egypt is attempting to negotiate a ceasefire, as it has in the past, The Associated Press said.
“We deplore the fact that civilians are once again paying the price,” UN representative Richard Miron said, AP reported. “This goes to prove finally that the situation in Gaza in very fragile and unsustainable.”
The renewed hostilities are the deadliest in almost a year.
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