Palestinian girl, 6, killed as Israel retaliates for fatal kibbutz attack

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The Independent Online

An Israeli man was killed and four other people were wounded yesterday when Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at a kibbutz in the western Negev desert.

Amnon Rosenberg, 51, who had three children, died when the shell landed outside a paint factory at the Kibbutz Nir Oz. The other casualties were hit by shrapnel. Not long after the attack, a six-year-old Palestinian girl was killed and her mother wounded as Israeli warplanes launched a strike on the militants suspected of firing the mortar. A missile missed its target and landed in the garden of the family's home in Gaza.

The violence dealt a new blow to Egyptian efforts to broker a truce between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which seized control of Gaza a year ago. The attacks came a day after the moderate Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, called for renewed dialogue with Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the kibbutz attack. It fires Qassam rockets into Israel almost daily and Israel frequently responds with air strikes and ground incursions into Gaza.

On Tuesday, seven Qassam rockets and four mortars hit the western Negev desert. Five people were hurt, including two Bedouin farmhands, a farmer and two Thai migrant workers.

A spokesman for Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said: "Israel cannot and will not allow the situation to continue."