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Sunday March 27, 2011 9:37 AM (EST+7)
Medics: Israeli airstrike kills two Palestinian gunmen

Read more: Palestinian dead, Palestinian casualties, airstrikes, shelling, missiles, armed men, missiles

GAZA, March 27 (Reuters) - Israeli aircraft killed two Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as tensions remained high despite signals on both sides of the border of a readiness to return to a de facto ceasefire.

Islamic Jihad, a militant group that has been launching rockets into Israel over the past week, said the two men killed in the air strike belonged to the movement. There was no immediate Israeli military comment.

Israeli raids in Gaza killed five militants and four civilians last week, a declared response to cross-border rocket attacks.

More than 70 projectiles have struck Israel since the border heated up, causing no serious casualties but disrupting the pace of life in the south of the country.

Gaza militants say their rocket and mortar attacks are in response to Israeli air raids in the territory, which is controlled by Hamas Islamists.

In public remarks to his cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has no desire to escalate the situation, noting the frontier had been relatively quiet since the end of the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza war.

But he said: We will not hesitate to use the might of the Israel Defense Forces against those who attack our citizens.

On Saturday, Gaza militant groups indicated they would halt rocket fire if Israel stopped its attacks.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said militant leaders were committed as long as the occupation (Israel) was committed to abide by an earlier de facto truce.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)






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