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Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire

Israel says it targeted the group which runs Gaza after rockets were fired towards it from the Palestinian enclave
Two days of fighting killed 34 Palestinians, including women and children, and no Israelis (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

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

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, had been spared the brunt of Israeli bombardment during this week's flare-up which focused on its ally Islamic Jihad.

A ceasefire has been in place since Thursday morning following the wave of tit-for-tat air strikes and rocket fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

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The Israeli military said Saturday it hit the ruling Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where journalists for the AFP news agency saw the Israeli strikes. 

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.

It was not immediately known who fired the rockets.

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

There were no reports of casualties.

Targeted assassination

It was the first time Hamas had been hit since this week's escalation began with Israel's targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Atta and his wife early on Tuesday.

That strike triggered almost immediate retaliatory rocket fire from Islamic Jihad at Israel.

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The Israeli military said around 450 rockets were fired at its territory during the fighting and air defences intercepted scores of them.

The military responded with air strikes it said targeted Islamic Jihad sites and rocket- and missile-launching squads.

After two days of fighting which killed 34 Palestinians, including women and children, and no Israelis, 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.

On Thursday, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters that the army had "wanted to keep Hamas out of the fighting".

"Throughout the operation, we of course distinguished between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and all of our operations were measured, proportionate and focused only on military assets belonging to Islamic jihad," he said.