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Israeli plane hits Gaza after rocket attack

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli warplanes struck several military sites in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, hours after Palestinian militants fired a missile at southern Israel in a move apparently linked to rising tensions in the occupied West Bank, Israel said.

The Israeli army said the airstrikes targeted a weapons manufacturing plant and an underground tunnel belonging to Hamas, the militant group that has controlled Gaza since 2007. The army said more projectiles were fired above from the border as warplanes struck Gaza sites.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for Saturday night’s rocket, which landed in an open area near the Gaza-Israel fence. The border has been quiet since August’s three-day blitz between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a powerful Gaza group that is smaller than the dominant Hamas.

Hamas and other factions have largely honored unofficial deals that have kept calm in the impoverished territory in exchange for thousands of Israeli work permits. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on Gaza to prevent Hamas from stockpiling weapons.

“The overnight strike continues progress in preventing the buildup of strength” by Hamas, the Israeli military said.

Critics of the blockade say it is a form of collective punishment that harms Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

While Gaza has remained calm, tension has been mounting for months in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited autonomy in parts of the territory.

Israel carried out near-daily raids it said targeted Palestinians involved in planning or participating in attacks, sparked by a series of Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the spring that killed 19 people.

The military says the raids are intended to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks, but Palestinians say they are entrenching Israel’s indefinite occupation, now in its 56th year. A recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets killed nine more people.

More than 140 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting this year. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed were militants. But young stone throwers protesting the Israeli army incursions and others not involved in the clashes were also killed.

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