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Two militants killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza

TEL AVIV/ GAZA, March 4 (RIA Novosti) - At least two Palestinian militants were killed on Tuesday as Israel launched three air strikes on the Gaza Strip, spokesmen for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The air strikes targeted a vehicle carrying rockets and two groups of militants. The latter attack was reported in northern Gaza controlled by radical Islamic group Hamas following Palestinian rocket fire against the Israelis.

Palestinians have been gradually reducing the number of strikes, with just two rocket launches reported on Tuesday. No casualties have been reported.

In less than a week of escalating conflict between Israelis and Palestinians 190 Qassam rockets were launched against southern Israel, as well as 20 more powerful missiles and 67 mortars.

The Israeli military concluded a ground offensive in northern Gaza on Monday that left at least 118 people dead and jeopardized U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli ground troops launched the offensive last Wednesday mainly targeting the town of Jebalya in the north of the Palestinian enclave controlled by radical Islamic group Hamas. At least 400 people, including women and children, were injured in the operation.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, just days after the Palestinian leader suspended peace talks with Israel in response to the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. After meeting with Abbas, Rice is due to head to Israel for talks.

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