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Toll from Israeli raids on Gaza rises to 5

by Staff Writers
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) April 8, 2011
The death toll from a wave of Israeli raids after Hamas militants fired a missile at a school bus rose to five Friday after medics uncovered another body in southern Gaza.

The fifth body was pulled from the rubble in the southern city of Rafah after the air force staged raids on three smuggling tunnels there, medics said.

A total of 41 people were injured in a series of more than a dozen air raids and several incidents of tank shelling in the 12 hours following the attack on an Israeli school bus just across the border from Gaza City.

Immediately after the bus was hit with an anti-tank missile, Israel troops shelled Shejaiya, the area in eastern Gaza from which the missile had been fired, killing a 50-year-old man and wounding five others, including a small child.

After that, Israel carried out some 13 air raids across the territory, which injured another 32 people and killed three more, all of them in Rafah, with medics finding a fourth body there early on Friday.

Shortly before midnight, Gaza's Hamas rulers said they had managed to secure the agreement of the armed Palestinian factions to observe a truce on rocket fire.

Several hours later, Israel mounted another airstrike on northern Gaza but it did not cause any casualties, security sources on both sides said.

On Friday morning, another four people were moderately injured when Israeli artillery opened fire on the ruins of the airport near Rafah, medical sources said.

Aside from the anti-tank missile fired on Thursday afternoon, militants had lobbed around 50 mortars into southern Israel, a military spokeswoman said, although none of them had been fired after the armed factions agreed to a truce.

Over the past month, scores of rockets have hit southern Israel, prompting a series of retaliatory air strikes and raids.

In December 2008, Israel launched a devastating 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, in a bid to stamp out rocket fire.

That operation left some 1,400 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of whom were soldiers.

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