Israel strikes Gaza after Palestinian rocket fire

Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli aircraft bombed two rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the military said, hours after Palestinian militants had fired mortars into Israel.

There were no casualties in the attacks, which coincided with the first anniversary of a cross border conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Palestinian enclave.

The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing the mortars, which landed harmlessly in open areas in southern Israel.

The Israel-Gaza front has been mostly quiet since Egypt brokered a ceasefire which ended the eight-day conflagration last year, in which about 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.

The Palestinian Authority, Hamas's Western-backed rivals who exercise limited rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, resumed peace talks with Israel in July.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Citing security concerns, Israel keeps Gaza under a naval blockade and restricts imports and exports into and from the territory, home to 1.8 million Palestinians.

Hamas has denounced the peace talks as a waste of time, saying the discussions stand no chance of leading to a deal.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Crispian Balmer)

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