Gazans Wounded in Israeli Strike

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Gazans Wounded in Israeli Strike

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Ths strike came after a day of clashes in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and other places. (Reuters)

At least 11 people have been injured in an
Israeli air strike at an airport in southern Gaza, Palestinian medical
officials and witnesses said.

The strike targeted Gaza's defunct international airport, located
near the town of Rafah, late on Friday, witnesses said.

The Israeli army told Al Jazeera that the attack
targeted "a terror site" and said its pilots confirmed that the target
was hit.

It also confirmed that it hit two smuggling tunnels and a weapons
manufacturing site  in another strike 24 hours earlier.

Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman, reporting from Gaza,
said Israel called the strike a reaction to rocket fire from Gaza into
southern Israel a day earlier.

"It's the second night of attacks
in the Gaza Strip," he said.

"The Israelis say it is in retaliation for the rocket attack, but ...
the group that claimed responsibility for the attack [on Israel] says
[the rocket attack] is in reaction to what's perceived as [Israeli]
aggression and provocation in the West Bank."

Fierce
clashes

The two days of strikes come after clashes between Palestinian youths
and Israeli police in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians fought running battles with Israeli police in the
occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the latest clashes since Israel
announced the construction of 1,600 new homesin East Jerusalem.

Israeli security forces used tear gas against hundreds of
stone-throwing Palestinian protesters following Friday prayers in
Hebron.

Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, reporting from Hebron, said heightened
tensions throughout the past week have erupted into open confrontation.

"The
situation has quietened down, but there were fierce clashes between
Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers," she said.

"The amount of tear gas used in the city is just quite unbelievable
and a dozen injuries have been reported in the occupied West Bank."

There
were similar altercations at Bilin and Nilin, sites of weekly
Palestinian protests against Israel's West Bank "security barrier".

Hebron is home to about 160,000 Muslims, but some 500 Israelis and
Jews live in a small settlement in the centre of the city, with a heavy
Israeli security detail.

There were also skirmishes in East Jerusalem as Israeli police were
also on high alert in Jerusalem where they prevented men under the age
of 50 from entering the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said prayers at the compound passed
without incident and Jerusalem was generally calm.

"A lot of people are angry at what is taking place in Hebron and are
coming out to show solidarity," Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting
from Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, said.

"It is all of
course mounting tension over what Palestinians here see as a restriction
of their basic rights."

Charged atmosphere

An already charged atmosphere intensified this week as a rebuilt
17th-century synagogue was opened in the Jewish quarter of the Old City,
a few hundred metres from the compound.

Many Palestinians view Israeli projects near the mosque compound - a
site holy both to Jews and Muslims - as an assault on its status quo or a
prelude to the building of a third Jewish temple there.

Israel
had sealed off the West Bank following previous clashes at the East
Jerusalem site known to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque compound and to
Jews as the Temple Mount.

Clashes at the same site in September
2000 triggered a wave of unrest in the Palestinian territories that
became known as the "Second Intifada [uprising]".

The latest
violence had led some in the region to speak of the possibility of a
"Third Intifada".

Mohammed Dahlan, a senior Fatah official, said
on Friday the party "does not seek a third intifada," after continuing
unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But he also warned that the Palestinian people "have the right and
the duty to defend themselves and the Islamic holy sites".

The
unrest comes as the international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators- an informal
group including the United Nations, the European Union, the United
States and Russia - called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity.

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