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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 11:53 GMT
Israelis injured in rocket attack
An injured soldier arrives at hospital in Beersheva
Troops around Gaza come under regular attack from militants
Twelve Israeli soldiers have been injured after Palestinian militants fired two rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The rockets landed inside an army base near the border with northern Gaza.

Overnight a Palestinian gunman was killed as he attacked troops at the main checkpoint from Israel to Gaza.

The violence comes a day after an tank shell aimed at suspected militants killed seven Palestinians youths in a strawberry field in northern Gaza.

Militant groups have intensified their rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli settlements and military posts, and the Israelis have launched raids aimed at halting the missiles, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza.

Pilgrims delayed

The soldiers injured when Qassam rockets were fired into Israel by Hamas militants early on Wednesday were taken to hospital in the desert town of Beersheva, the Israeli military said.

Earlier, two rockets were fired at the town of Sderot, close to the Gaza border and a frequent target. There were no casualties.

Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed joint responsibility for an overnight attack against the Erez checkpoint between Israel and Gaza.

Several Palestinian policemen were injured during the incident in addition to the man killed.

The Israeli military said the attack was likely to delay the passage of a group of 400 Palestinians waiting near the checkpoint to leave Gaza to begin a journey to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Continuing violence near the Gaza-Israel border comes despite a call from Mahmoud Abbas, favourite to be elected Palestinian president on Sunday, to end rocket attacks against Israel.

Palestinian militants have been waging a four-year intifada or uprising against Israel, whose forces have occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to pull out all 8,000 Israeli settlers and the troops who protect them from 21 fortified enclaves in Gaza. Israel will maintain control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




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