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Israel retaliated for a rocket fired deep into the country, killing at least nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Ground and air attacks Thursday targeted buildings used by Palestinian terrorists. More than 30 Palestinians were wounded. Three of the dead were civilians.

The Israeli army’s operations were responding to an attack from Gaza by a rocket believed to be a Soviet-style “Grad” that hit northern Ashkelon on Thursday, causing no damage or casualties. Israeli officials said it was the longest-range rocket ever fired from Gaza.

The operations began early Thursday when troops backed by helicopter gunships struck east of Khan Younis in what military sources described as a search for terrorists responsible for cross-border rocket salvos. Two local gunmen were killed in the ensuing clashes.

An Israeli tank hit the home of a terrorist in Khan Younis, killing him and three of his relatives.

The Palestinian terrorists were shooting at Israeli soldiers from civilian areas, the Israeli army said.

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