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Israel launches fresh strikes against Gaza after rocket fire

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Israel targeted Hamas in strikes on Gaza early Saturday after rockets were fired towards it from the Palestinian enclave, the army said, two days after a fragile ceasefire began.

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Hamas, the Islamist movement that has de facto control over the Gaza Strip, has so far kept its distance from the deadly exchanges of fire that erupted this week.

A ceasefire has been in place since Thursday morning following the violent escalation between Israel and Islamic Jihad — the territory's second most powerful Palestinian militant group.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it was "currently striking Hamas terror targets" in Gaza, where AFP journalists saw the Israeli strikes and reported retaliation from inside the enclave.

The army said it launched the strikes after "two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory" and were intercepted by air defences.

Palestinian security sources said the Israeli strikes were aimed at two Hamas sites in the north of the territory.

It was the first time Hamas has been targeted since this week's escalation began early Tuesday with Israel's targeted killing of a top Islamic Jihad commander.

That strike triggered almost immediate retaliatory rocket fire from Islamic Jihad at Israel, setting off air-raid sirens and sending Israelis rushing to bomb shelters in the country's southern and central regions.

Fragile ceasefire

Israel's military had said around 450 rockets were fired at its territory during the fighting and air defences had intercepted dozens of them.

It then responded with its own air strikes, saying it had targeted more Islamic Jihad militant sites and rocket- and missile-launching squads.

After two days of violence — in which 34 Palestinians died but no Israeli fatalities — a ceasefire was agreed.

But it has so far been precarious, with fire coming from both sides on Friday after the agreement went into effect.

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