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Israel Vows to Defend Itself Against Hamas Rocket Attacks


Israel has vowed to stand firm in its response to scores of Hamas rocket attacks, as Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip Thursday that killed at least six Palestinians.

A spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will take all measures to defend itself from Hamas rockets.

Late Thursday, Mr. Olmert visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which has been hit by rockets in recent days. Several people have been wounded.

During the day, Israeli warplanes pounded suspected Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources say at least two civilians were killed.

Israeli tanks also crossed into Gaza Thursday.

These developments took place as Palestinian factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah continued in the Gaza Strip.

More than 45 people, including three on Thursday, have been killed since the latest round of factional clashes broke out Sunday.

Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah canceled a trip to Gaza on Thursday out of fear that Hamas militants may attack his convoy.

Mr. Abbas had planned to meet with Hamas leaders on ways to end the factional fighting. Previous ceasefires have quickly collapsed since the latest clashes began.

The fighting is threatening to bring down the fragile unity government of Hamas and Fatah.

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