GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israeli air raids on Hamas-run Gaza killed four militants just hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended her first Middle East trip vowing to breathe life into the peace process Thursday.
An air strike in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza on Thursday killed three militants and wounded two others, medics said.
An army spokesman said the raid targeted a group who had fired an anti-tank shell at an army unit on the Israeli side of the border.
Late Wednesday, an Israeli air raid killed a senior Islamic Jihad military commander as he drove through the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City.
Israel launched four strikes on the Gaza Strip Thursday evening in response to rockets and mortar shells being fired, a military spokesman said.
"Our aircraft struck four tunnels dug under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, close to Rafah," he told AFP.
"In all eight rockets and two mortar shells have been fired at Israel on Thursday."
In a statement published in Gaza, the Al-Quds Brigade, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Thursday claimed responsibility for 10 rocket attacks on Israel.
No casualties were reported from the rockets in Israel, according to the Israeli army and medical services.
It was the latest blow to the tenuous ceasefire Hamas and Israel declared on January 18 to end Israel's 22-day devastating war on the tiny coastal strip. Egypt has been brokering talks to turn the ceasefires into a durable truce but has so far failed to clinch any agreement.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned of tough action to try to stamp out the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, which Israel withdrew from in 2005 after 38 years of occupation.
The latest violence erupted just hours after Clinton left Israel on Wednesday after wrapping up her first trip to the Middle East since being appointed by US President Barack Obama.
"The United States aims to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realised," she said after talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the occupied West Bank. "Time is of the essence."
She called for Israel to allow more aid into Gaza, which was devastated by the war that Israel launched on December 27 in response to rocket fire and that ended up killing more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Israel sealed the impoverished territory to all but humanitarian goods in June 2007 when Hamas, an Islamist group pledged to Israel's destruction, seized power in the enclave booting out forces loyal to moderate Abbas.
"We have obviously expressed concerns about the border crossings. We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza," Clinton said.
Gaza is one of the world's most densely-populated places. More than half of the 1.4 million population is under 18 and the vast majority of residents depend on foreign aid.
Clinton slammed Israel's plans to raze houses in east Jerusalem that were built without building permits, notoriously difficult to obtain for the city's Palestinian residents.
"Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the roadmap," Clinton said, referring to a blueprint for peace talks adopted by the international community in 2003.
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