Bloodiest flare up of violence in months in the Middle East leads to Palestinian deaths in the Gaza strip

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In Gaza they are burying their dead after the bloodiest flare up of violence in months left four Palestinians dead according to Hamas officials.

Hundreds followed the cortege of Rabea Barakeh through the streets of Gaza city. He was one of four militants who were killed three of whom died in an attack on a tunnel near the border with Israel.

Israeli military sources said its aircraft targeted the tunnel used, they claimed by militants to mount attacks on Israel. Hours before the air strike a Palestinian was killed in another incident when Israeli forces detonated part of a separate tunnel.

Recriminations have followed the clashes with one senior Hamas leader quoted as telling reporters, “ we are not interested in an unjustified escalation but we have the right to defend our people “.

Five Israeli soldiers were reported to have been injured in the violence.

Israel has accused Hamas of breaching the ceasefire agreed last November. One commander said Israel was not seeking an escalation but warned an attack would draw, “a painful response”.

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