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Originally published Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 4:09 PM

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4 die in Gaza as violence escalates

At least three people were killed and others were injured Saturday when Hamas and Israel disregarded a pledged cease-fire and resumed strikes on both sides of the Gaza border. The chief of the Israel Defense Forces called a meeting of military officials to determine the next course of action.

The New York Times

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Despite a pledged cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel, strikes resumed on both sides of the Gaza border on Saturday, killing at least three Palestinian men and a 6-year-old boy in Gaza, and wounding an Israeli man in Sderot, officials said.

Signaling the seriousness of the renewed fighting, the chief of the Israel Defense Forces called an urgent meeting of senior military officials during the Sabbath to "determine the next course of action," according to a military spokeswoman, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

On Saturday afternoon, the armed wing of Hamas, known as the Qassam Brigades, promised to continue firing rockets in response to the Israeli airstrikes. "If the last round of confrontation ... was not enough to deter the occupation," it said in a statement, "we are ready to break its arrogance, stop its crimes and respond to its aggression." But a few hours later, Israel's Channel 2 news reported that a new Hamas cease-fire would begin Saturday night.

The renewed fighting comes just after the fifth anniversary of Hamas' taking of full control of the Gaza Strip, and amid an internal struggle for leadership of the party. Until last week, Hamas had largely adhered to an informal cease-fire for more than a year, though other militant Palestinian factions had frequently fired rockets into southern Israel. This latest flare-up began Monday with the killing of an Israeli construction worker building a fence along the border with Egypt.

Israeli military officials said 24 rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel on Saturday, part of a weeklong barrage of more than 150; 10 were intercepted.

A school and factory were among the sites hit, as officials urged residents to stay indoors.

Israel struck two Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip and one in the south on Saturday .A military spokeswoman said two suspected terrorists "about to launch rockets at Israel" were directly targeted in separate attacks.

Palestinian officials said the first attack killed Khaled al-Buri, who was affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees, a group loyal to Hamas that claimed responsibility for firing dozens of rockets and missiles into Israel in recent days. The second attack was apparently aimed at a motorbike rider in Gaza City. But witnesses said he escaped unharmed, while the rocket hit an apartment building, sending bricks onto the street that killed Osama Ali, 42, and wounded 10 others.

And Saturday morning in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, witnesses said, an Israeli artillery shell killed Ali al-Shawaf, 6, and wounded his father, who died later in the day.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the Israeli military said on Twitter that the boy had died in an explosion of Palestinian ordnance.

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