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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Israel missile kills two in Gaza
Grieving Palestinians in Gaza
At least 11 Palestinian civilians have died in recent Israeli attacks
Two Palestinians, a woman and a man, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in a blast blamed on an Israeli air strike.

Sources quoted by Reuters news agency said seven others, including a number children, were wounded in the blast which hit a house in Khan Younis.

Israel has killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians in air strikes in recent days, many of them children.

The attacks are to stop militants firing homemade rockets at Israeli towns near Gaza, Israel says.

Reports quoting eyewitnesses said an Israeli missile just missed a car carrying militants and hit a residential property. The militants fled into a nearby field, unharmed.

We call on Israel to respect its obligations under international law and ensure civilians, particularly children, are not harmed
Margaret Beckett,
UK Foreign Secretary

The Israeli military confirmed that it carried out an air strike, but gave no further details.

Correspondents say it seems to have been the second botched attempt to kill Palestinian militants in the space of two days.

Crowded areas

Earlier, thousands of Palestinians attended funerals for three children killed by an Israeli missile strike on a car on Tuesday.

As the funerals went ahead, militants fired three more rockets, bringing the total to more than 140 this month, an Israeli military source said.

There have been some injuries and damage to property during these attacks - mainly in the Israeli town of Sderot - but no deaths.

Palestinians douse burning car in Gaza after Israeli air strike
Tuesday's blast hit a militant's car but killed civilian bystanders

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says the Israeli air force often carries out its air strikes against militants in very crowded areas and innocent bystanders can be hurt or killed.

On 13 June, eight civilians were killed in a similar attack. Palestinians blame Israel for the deaths of another eight on a Gaza beach earlier this month, although Israel has denied responsibility.

The Israeli army said the car in Tuesday's attack had been a legitimate target, but it regretted any civilian casualties caused by its actions.

Britain condemned Tuesday's strike, urged maximum restraint by the Israeli military to avoid escalating tension and called for an immediate halt to Palestinian rocket fire.

"We call on the Israeli authorities to respect their obligations under international law and ensure that civilians, particularly children, are not harmed," said UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in a statement.

Speaking at a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to take "very hard measures, more hard and more painful than those taken in the past" against Palestinians who attacked Israel.




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