Israel intercepts rocket from Gaza after border exchange

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel on Thursday intercepted a rocket fired at southern Israel from Gaza, the military sad, a day after it shelled Hamas targets in the coastal strip, killing three Hamas militants.

An army statement said nine rocket launches were identified overnight. One was intercepted and the rest land in open fields.

Wednesday's shelling of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip was in response to sniper fire at troops on the border that moderately wounded an Israeli officer.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the militant Hamas group which rules the Gaza Strip, said the three killed men were members of the Islamist organization's armed forces.

Hours after Wednesday's incident, air raid sirens sounded across communities in southern Israel.

The cross-border exchange took place a few days after Gaza's Hamas rulers agreed to a cease-fire with Israel to prevent weekend hostilities from escalating.

The Israel-Gaza border has seen an escalation in violence in recent weeks, following months of weekly protests organized by the Islamic militant Hamas.

Over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire since the protests began on March 30. A Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border last Friday.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past decade.

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