Israel and Gaza militants exchange fire after deadly strikes

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli jets pounded militant targets in Gaza early Saturday as rockets rained on southern Israel, hours after a wave of Israeli airstrikes on the coastal enclave killed at least 10 people, including a senior militant and a 5-year-old girl.

The fighting that began Friday with Israel’s dramatic targeted killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad continued throughout the night, drawing the sides closer to an all-out war.

But the territory’s Hamas rulers appeared to stay on the sidelines of the conflict, keeping its intensity somewhat contained, for now. Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

The latest round of Israel-Gaza violence was sparked by the arrest this week of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, part of a month-long Israeli military operation in the territory. Citing a security threat, Israel then for days sealed roads around the Gaza Strip and on Friday took out the militant leader in a targeted strike.

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Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.

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