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Israeli civilian, Palestinian girl killed in Gaza flare-up

GAZA : A Gaza sniper shot dead an Israeli civilian over the border on Tuesday and Israel hit back with air strikes on two Hamas training camps which hospital officials said killed a Palestinian girl near one of the targets.

The Israeli man, who the military said was working on Israel's security fence, was the first Israeli killed on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

His death, which drew a swift threat of retaliation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came amid heightened tensions after two suspected Palestinian attacks – a bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday that caused no casualties and the wounding of an Israeli policeman in a stabbing on Monday.

Officials from Hamas, the Islamic group which rules Gaza, and witnesses said Israeli aircraft bombed the group's training camps in Khan Younis and al-Bureij. Witnesses said Israeli tanks had fired shells east of Gaza city.

Gaza hospital officials said a three-year-old girl was killed by shrapnel during the Israeli strike on the Bureij facility. They had initially estimated her age at two years.

She was standing with other family members outside their home near the camp and two of her brothers were wounded, the officials said. In a statement, Hamas condemned the girl's death as "a criminal and cowardly act".

The Israeli military said in a statement its aircraft, tanks and infantry had taken part in a series of strikes.

"The sites targeted were a weapon manufacturing facility and a terror infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, a terror site and another terror infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip and a concealed rocket launcher," the military said.

The violence abated by nightfall and following a familiar pattern of brief flare-ups, any major escalation would largely depend on whether Israel decides to mount further strikes and on whether militants fire rockets into Israeli towns.

Source: Reuters

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