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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hamas says fired rockets at Israel

GAZA, June 10 (Reuters) - Hamas said it fired rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Saturday for the first time since agreeing to a truce 16 months ago.

Hamas, which now heads the Palestinian government, announced it was renewing attacks on Israel after an explosion it blamed on the Israeli military killed seven Palestinians relaxing on a Gaza beach on Friday.

Israel, which has been firing artillery at Palestinian rocket squads, promised an investigation.

There were no immediate reports in Israel that any of the rockets Hamas's armed wing said it aimed across the border on Saturday had landed in Israeli territory.

Hamas is formally sworn to destroy Israel and carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings in its cities since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000. The Islamic group took power in March after winning a Palestinian election in January.

"This is only the start and rocket firings will continue," a spokesman for Hamas's Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades said.

"Next time, the rockets will be longer in range and they will hit places deeper inside the Zionist entity. The attacks come in response to the Zionist crimes and the killings of civilians in Gaza," he said.

Palestinians said an Israeli artillery shell had caused the deaths on the Gaza beach. The army said it was too early to be certain.

"This may have been an accident which caused an artillery shell to fall off course, or an older unexploded shell which went off, or perhaps an explosive device which was tinkered with," said Major-General Yoav Galant.
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