JERUSALEM // More than 40 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel hours after five Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations in the Hamas-ruled territory, an army spokeswoman said today. "Twenty-three rockets were fired this morning against the Gaza Strip from southern Israel," the spokeswoman said. "During the night another 19 rockets were fired at Israel," she said. The rocket fire followed Israeli military operations, including two air raids, that marked the most serious incident since a truce went into effect in and around Gaza in June.
Four Palestinians were killed in the Israeli air raids near the towns of Dir el Balah and El Bureij, Palestinian medics said. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the raids, adding that they targeted armed groups firing mortars. Another Palestinian fighter was killed and three other militants were wounded in a shoot-out with an Israeli army unit in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel late last night, Palestinian emergency services said, adding that he was a member of the Hamas movement.
A military spokesman said the Israeli unit was deployed close to the border "after the discovery of a tunnel aimed at abducting soldiers". He said the Israeli operation was not in violation of a June ceasefire agreement between Israel and armed Palestinian groups. Separately, unidentified Palestinians fired mortars at Israeli territory, without causing casualties or damage, a military official said.