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Fighting in Gaza intesifies

Israeli airstrikes light up the night sky over Gaza... As the fighting between Israel and Hamaas continues, Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak hints at a stronger retaliation. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI MINISTER OF DEFENCE, EHUD BARAK, SAYING: "The firing towards the Tel Aviv area and the scope of the firing in general towards the country is an escalation and this escalation will have a price that the other side will have to pay. I said it in the beginning of the operation that we would also have difficult moments and it would not be an easy test. Today we saw a price that we have to pay in Kiryat Malachi and our hearts go out to families of the dead." Three Israelis were killed by Hamas rocket fire which hit their apartment block just north of the Gaza strip. 19 Palestinian casualties in Gaza, including 6 children, have been reported so far. Violence in the region surged earlier this week after Israel assassinated a Hamas leader and targeted other Hamas fighters in Gaza in retaliation for increased rocket attacks against southern Israel. In a sign of the escalating conflict - Israel is preparing to mobilise 30,000 reserve soldiers for a possible ground campaign against Hamas in its Gaza stronghold.

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