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    Israel launches dozens of Gaza strikes after rockets target Tel Aviv

    GAZA City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Israel said yesterday its aircraft had struck dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rockets from the Palestinian enclave, including rare fire toward its economic capital Tel Aviv.

    The escalation followed weeks of growing tensions and came at an especially sensitive time ahead of Israel’s April 9 elections.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely believed to want to avoid a fourth war in the Gaza Strip since 2008 ahead of the polls, but the exchange of fire again showed the risks.

    Quiet returned to Gaza and Israel yesterday morning. United Nations (UN) and Egyptian officials were in contact with both sides “to prevent the situation from spinning out of control”, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

    Organisers of weekly Friday protests along the Gaza border fence, which have been accompanied by violence, announced they would be cancelled – the first such move since they began nearly a year ago.

    Israeli soldiers take aim at Palestinian protesters following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian lands in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank. – AFP

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