Smoke is seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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Israeli air strikes shook Gaza every few minutes Wednesday, and militants kept up rocket fire at Israel's heartland in intensifying warfare that Palestinian officials said has killed at least 43 people in the Hamas-dominated enclave.Other communities near Tel Aviv in central Israel and in the south, closer to Gaza, were also targeted. In the longest-range attack since Tuesday, when Israel stepped up its offensive, a rocket hit near Zichron Yaakov, a town 115 kilometers north of Gaza. The build-up to the most serious hostilities between Israel and Gaza militants since an eight-day war in 2012 began three weeks ago with rocket attacks following the abduction and killing of three Jewish seminary students in the occupied West Bank.The rocket fire from Gaza began after Israel arrested hundreds of Hamas activists in a West Bank sweep it mounted in tandem with a search for the youths, who were found dead last week.While threatening an "earthquake" of escalation against Israel, Hamas said it could restore calm if Israel halted the Gaza offensive, once again committed to a 2012 ceasefire truce and freed the prisoners it detained in the West Bank last month.
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