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Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israel

world Updated: Mar 19, 2011 16:19 IST

PTI
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Palestinian militants today bombarded Israel's southern territories with a barrage of over 50 rockets that reportedly left at least two people injured.

The rockets began to land in the early hours today, with most of them landing in open areas in southern Israel's western Eshkol region. In the pounding, two people were reported to be lightly injured and two homes damaged - breaking a relatively long period of lull in violence at a time when Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority is in reconciliatory talks with Islamist Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip.

Police forces rushed to the area in order to record where the rockets had fallen, and where they had exploded. Residents in the area were ordered to remain inside their houses and in shelters. Eshkol Regional Council head, Haim Yalin, said the protected spaces proved themselves.

"They really save lives. What happened here this morning is something which we unfortunately call an emergency routine. "So we've managed to seize a ship, but who knows how much they have already smuggled into the Strip. The communities' emergency squads did their job and the residents remained in protected spaces," Yalin said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed the Israeli envoy to the UN to lodge an official complaint in response to the rocket fire, Ha'aretz reported.

"The offensive this morning, which took place while the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas were speaking about reunification, shows that the international support for a Palestinian state that the Palestinians are trying to garner, will actually be support for the creation of a terrorist state," Lieberman wrote in the message meant to be conveyed to the UN.

The future Palestinian state's "first and foremost goal is the destruction of Israel," the Israeli foreign minister stated.

Two gunmen belonging to Hamas' armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, were killed during an Israeli aerial strike in Gaza on Wednesday. The attack was launched in response to rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli territory earlier in the day.

Hamas has tried to maintain an informal ceasefire with Israel following the Jewish state's three week offencive in the coastal territory more than two years ago, but the recent week has seen an escalation in violence.