Israeli Killed in Rocket Fire from Gaza

Israel and the Palestinians battled each other for a third day on Saturday, with an Israeli man killed and two children hurt, as well as three Palestinians.

As the fighting continued, world powers trying to broker peace in the Middle East warned that there is a "risk of escalation" and urged key players in the region to hit the brakes.

The Israeli man was killed and seven others wounded four of them seriously, by Grad rockets from the Gaza Strip which struck the southern Israeli city of Beersheva, the capital of Negev, according to Israeli emergency services.

The Popular Resistance Committees, a radical militant group blamed by Israel for the killing of eight Israelis near the Egyptian border on Thursday, claimed the Saturday attack on Beersheva.

The armed wing of Hamas said it fired four Grad rockets Saturday at the Israeli town of Ofakim, where officials earlier reported two children had been lightly wounded.

"We fired four Grad rockets at the Zionist town of Ofakim," some 15 kilometers from the Gaza Strip, said a statement from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"This is our response to the crimes of the Zionist occupation after the deaths of 15 of our martyrs and dozens of injured" in Gaza.

Earlier rockets fired from Gaza wounded three Palestinian workers in southern Israel and Israeli planes attacked the coastal enclave.

"One rocket hit a house, causing damage but no casualties," police spokeswoman Luba Samri told Agence France Presse.

"The second fell on open ground, among sand dunes, where it wounded three people, Palestinians staying in Israel illegally, injuring two seriously and one moderately," she said of an attack near Ashdod.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to stop Israel's attacks on Gaza.

The Israeli military said more than 50 rockets or mortar rounds have been fired on Israel since midnight on Friday.

Activists in Gaza claimed 23 rockets struck Israel.

Islamic Jihad and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also said they took part in the rocket attacks.

In Gaza City around 2,000 mourners, many waving Islamic Jihad banners and Palestinian flags and chanting "revenge, revenge on Tel Aviv" turned out for the funerals of an Islamic Jihad commander, Moataz Qouriqa, his five-year-old son Islam and his brother Munzer, killed in a strike late on Friday.

The army said that in the early hours of Saturday the Israeli air force attacked several targets in Gaza.

"Aircraft targeted two terror tunnels and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as a terror activity site in the northern Gaza Strip," a statement said.

Palestinian medical officials said two air strikes targeted northern Gaza on Saturday that injured at least three people, one seriously, but military spokesmen could not confirm any aerial attacks during the day.

The Palestinians did not report any casualties from the overnight strikes, but said that air raids on Friday and Thursday killed a total of 14 people and wounded over 40.

And Palestinians said an Israeli tank fired two shells at an unknown target east of Gaza City on Saturday, but no casualties were reported.

Israel blames the Popular Resistance Committees for Thursday's desert ambushes and has killed seven of its men in strikes since then, but the group denies responsibility although it has welcomed the operation.

Source: Agence France Presse

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