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  Thursday, July 9, 2020
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Another exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces
Another exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces has left the Gaza Strip ceasefire looking increasingly fragile.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired two rockets into southern Israel and that its forces had responded with an airstrike at a suspected weapons facility in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

While there were no deaths or injuries in the incidents, the latest outbreak of violence, which came shortly after an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian were killed in clashes, has left the January 18 truce that ended Tel Aviv's assault on Gaza in danger of collapse.

Israel blamed Hamas militants for attempts to violate the ceasefire agreement, and vowed that any further militant attacks would be met with a harsh response. Israeli officials also warned that Gaza's borders would remain closed if attacks continued.

"Hamas bears all responsibility for the terror coming from its area of control. The Israeli army will respond to any terrorist attacks in line with orders issued by the Israeli government," the Israeli military said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Washington's new Middle East envoy has called for the strengthening and extension of the current Gaza ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

"It is of critical importance that the ceasefire be extended and consolidated," George Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who arrived in Israel on Wednesday, has met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres, and is due to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Thursday.

Israel's recent military operation in Gaza killed some 1,300 Palestinians. Up to 50,000 people were also left homeless in the enclave of 1.5 million. Israel's casualties have been put at 13, including 10 military personnel.


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