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Israeli aircraft strike Gaza, hit security compound

Written by: Staff

GAZA, Apr 4 (Reuters) Israeli missiles hit a Palestinian security compound in Gaza today, the first such air strike in two years, and Israeli shells killed a Palestinian in the north of the strip after rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

The missile attack in Gaza City wounded a policeman. Hamas said Israel was trying to send a message in response to the Islamic group's victory in January parliamentary elections.

Israel said it was responding to Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks.

Israel's YNet web site said one of about a dozen projectiles fired from Gaza landed in an industrial area on the outskirts of the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon, narrowly missing a storage area for flammable materials.

The Israeli military said it had carried out two separate air attacks, one on an open field in northern Gaza from where militants fire rockets, and the other on an ''open, unpopulated space'' in Gaza City.

Israel launched the strikes shortly after interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his centrist Kadima Party expected centre-left Labour to be its senior partner in a coalition government being formed after elections last week.

In the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiyeh, separate Israeli fire killed at least one person and wounded about seven others, including several in a house, Palestinian security officials said. One of those wounded in the house was a four-month-old girl, Reuters television pictures showed.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said artillery fire targeted rocket launching sites.

''There was no intent to hit any homes and we have no knowledge that we struck any,'' she said.

Earlier, Palestinian witnesses said two missiles fired from the air struck a training base used by Palestinian security forces in Gaza City. The office of President Mahmoud Abbas is nearby, although he was not there at the time.

A Hamas spokesman and Abbas's office condemned the air strikes. The militant group is sworn to Israel's destruction.

''It is a continuation of the escalation but this time it was a distinctive one because it targeted government positions,'' Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

''The continuation of aggression will only bring more destruction and death on the enemy.'' Militants regularly fire rockets from Gaza, which Israel withdrew from last year after 38 years of occupation. But the makeshift missiles rarely cause casualties nor are they launched from Gaza City because they do not have sufficient range.


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