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Gaza militants keep up rocket and mortar barrages on southern Israel; no casualties reported
JERUSALEM (AP) ' Gaza militants fired a fresh barrage of rockets and mortars on southern Israel early Sunday as a new convulsion of Israeli-Palestinian violence threatened to escalate.
Senior Israeli officials met late into the night to discuss the violence, weighing whether to step up retaliatory operations against Gaza militants who triggered the latest round of hostilities Thursday with a roadside ambush along the Israeli-Egypt border that killed eight Israelis.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Israel's current response to the surge in violence ' airstrikes that have killed more than a dozen Palestinians, most of them militants ' was not its final word.
Israel "will not hesitate" to widen its military operation if necessary, he told Israel Radio. "We will see how things develop on the ground," he said without elaborating.
Since the ambush, militants have fired around 100 rockets and mortars on southern Israel, killing an Israeli man and seriously wounding two other people on Saturday. Nearly 20 rockets and mortars struck the area early Sunday, causing no serious injuries, the military said.
Egypt has been drawn into the violence after at least three of its security forces were killed by Israeli troops pursuing militants involved in the ambush. Cairo initially threatened to withdraw its ambassador to Israel. Israel apologized and Egypt relented, but it says the apology is not enough.
In the Egyptian capital, protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy for a third day on Sunday, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli envoy who is now vacationing abroad.