Israeli missiles kill four in Gaza-medics

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GAZA, Nov 4 (Reuters) Israeli missile strikes killed four Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip today, local medical officials said.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed both attacks, saying that in the first an aircraft had fired at three men who had just launched rockets into southern Israel.

He said the second was the targeting from the ground of a rocket which was ready to launch. The spokesman said Palestinian militants have launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel in the past four months.

An official from Gaza's ruling Islamist Hamas faction said the air-launched missile hit a container at a factory near the town of Beit Hanoun. He said the three men, including a father and his son, had not been involved in the firing of the rockets.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said one of its men died in the second strike and another was wounded.

The northern Gaza Strip is an area which militants often use to launch rockets into southern Israel. The rockets are rarely deadly, but cause widespread panic and disruption to daily life for local residents.

The attack came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting the region, began meetings with Israeli officials and Palestinian leaders from Fatah, Hamas's rival faction, to discuss a planned peace conference later this year.

REUTERS SYU HT1420

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