Mideast Conflict: Israeli Military, Gaza Militants Trade Fire

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel on Thursday as terrified residents on both sides of the frontier holed up at their homes in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of Israel's offensive against the Palestinian militants.

The operation, launched in response to several days of rocket fire from the coastal territory, was Israel's most intense attack on Gaza since its full-scale war there four years ago.

It started with the assassination Wednesday of Hamas' top military commander, deepening the instability gripping the Mideast. Israel's already strained relations with Egypt's new Islamist government frayed even further as Cairo recalled its ambassador in response to the Israeli military operation.


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