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Israel, Militants Trade Fire as Gaza Death Toll Climbs to 24

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Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli airstrikes flattened homes in Gaza on Saturday and Palestinian rocket barrages into southern Israel persisted for a second day, raising fears of another major escalation in the Mideast conflict. Gaza’s health ministry said 24 people had been killed so far in the coastal strip, including six children.

The fighting began with Israel’s killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in a wave of strikes Friday that Israel said were meant to prevent an imminent attack.