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Militants fire rockets into Israel as officials say ceasefire may renew
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11:08, December 21, 2008

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Palestinian militant groups on Saturday continued firing rockets into Israeli border towns as officials did not rule out renewing Gaza Strip's ceasefire which ended Friday.

Militants from the less influential Islamic jihad group said they fired two rockets at an Israeli community village to the east of southern Gaza Strip and into Sderot city northeast Gaza.

"This shelling comes to emphasize the choice of resistance," the Islamic Jihad's military wing said in a statement sent to the media.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also claimed responsibility for firing two rockets into northern Israel's coast city of Ashkelon.

The resumption of the rocket attacks continued as June ceasefire, which Egypt brokered between Hamas and Israel, expired. In recent weeks, the ceasefire was left near collapse as Israel tightened Gaza blockade and militants resumed rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The two sides violated the core terms of the deal.

A Palestinian militant was killed and two others were wounded in an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza Strip this morning, marking the first fatality after the end of the ceasefire.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip last year and Israel imposed the blockade on the territory in a bid to isolate the Islamic movement.

In the meantime, a Hamas official said renewing the ceasefire "was not ruled out if a fair mediator, Palestinian understanding and complete Israeli commitment are available."

Atef Adwam, a Hamas lawmaker, asserted that the most important thing was "a fair mediator even if it was a European country."

Hamas accuses Egypt of not forcing Israel to respect its obligations under the ceasefire agreement.

But Azzam al-Ahmad, an official representing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), said Egypt was holding "intensive contacts with the concerned parties to renew the lull agreement."

Al-Ahmad expected that the Egyptian efforts will succeed in securing a new deal within few days.


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