Gaza rockets draw Israeli strikes; Two Gazans die

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JERUSALEM — Gaza militants pummeled southern Israel with dozens of rockets and mortars today, and Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinians in a sharp escalation of violence following a landmark visit to the coastal territory by the leader of Qatar.

Hostilities have been simmering for weeks, but erupted into barrages from Gaza immediately after the Qatari ruler left the territory Tuesday. Militants from the ruling Hamas movement joined the fray, undercutting the emir’s appeal to avoid confrontation with Israel.

Israeli leaders vowed that their country would not reconcile itself to attacks from the coastal strip.

The Israeli military said 72 rockets and mortars landed in Israel by mid-afternoon, and that Israeli aircraft struck Gaza four times.

Hamas’ military wing and a smaller militant faction claimed credit for the rocket and mortar fire.

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