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Originally published April 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 25, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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After 5-month break, Hamas rockets Israel

Hamas militants in Gaza joined in the rocketing of Israeli towns and villages for the first time in five months Tuesday, retaliating for...

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas militants in Gaza joined in the rocketing of Israeli towns and villages for the first time in five months Tuesday, retaliating for deadly Israeli raids in the Palestinian territories.

The barrage, on Israel's 59th independence day, did not cause damage or injury, but it marked the first time Hamas acknowledged firing shells toward Israel since agreeing to a cease-fire in November.

The cease-fire has greatly reduced the level of violence in Gaza. But the informal truce has been widely criticized in Israel because Palestinian security forces have not stopped rocket squads from firing at Israeli towns.

While Hamas rocket squads have stayed on the sidelines, other groups such as Islamic Jihad have kept up an almost daily barrage on Israelis living just outside Gaza.

Israel has stopped most of its military activity but kept Gaza in a stranglehold by closing vital crossings, citing security threats.

Israeli raids in the northern West Bank over the weekend and an Israeli missile strike in Gaza killed nine Palestinians, including two civilians, and Hamas called for attacks against Israel in retaliation.

"The cease-fire has been over for a long time, and Israel is responsible for that," Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida told Voice of Palestine radio.

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