Gaza militants exchange fire with Israeli forces

GAZA - Palestinian militants fired at least two rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, prompting an Israeli air strike and artillery shelling against open areas used for the launches, the Israeli army said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the exchange of fire, the second in as many days. Such cross-border clashes have caused little damage but kept tensions simmering since Israel quit Gaza in September after 38 years' occupation.

The army said two rockets struck Shuva, an Israeli moshav, or collective farm, 7km east of Gaza.

Witnesses in north Gaza saw three rockets being fired.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' faction Fatah, claimed responsibility.

Like other militant groups spearheading a 5-year-old Palestinian revolt, the Brigades developed makeshift rockets, which sow consternation in Israel but seldom hurt anyone.

Israel answered Sunday's salvo with an air strike and artillery fire at open areas of northern Gaza used by militants to launch rockets, an army spokeswoman said. There was similar strikes on Saturday after three rockets were fired at Israel.

The militants who carried out Saturday's launches called them revenge for the Israeli navy's killing of a Gaza fisherman.

Israel Radio said Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz had vowed to respond "swiftly and severely" to any attacks by militants on Israeli border towns and villages.

- REUTERS

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