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October 31, 2014

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Palestinian militants fire 14 rockets at Israel

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants fired at least 14 rockets into southern Israel early Monday, damaging two homes but causing no injuries, the army and police officials said.

Rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has increased in recent weeks as Israeli troops carry out an extensive operation against the Islamic militant group in the West Bank. The crackdown comes amid a search for three missing Israeli teens that Israel says were abducted by Hamas.

The rockets fired Monday raised to about 40 the number that have landed in Israel since the teens went missing earlier this month, the army said. The rockets have not killed or wounded anybody, but sow fear in Israeli communities near the border. Police said two houses were damaged by shrapnel on Monday.

"If the rocket fire continues, there are two options. Either Hamas will stop it. They are in charge on the ground. Or we will have to stop it," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "I strongly suggest to Hamas to take into account that we will not allow the rocket fire to continue."

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, took control of Gaza in 2007 after routing forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Early this month, Abbas moved to end the seven-year rift by forming a Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas. While Abbas is ostensibly in charge of Gaza, Hamas remains in de facto control with thousands of fighters and a large arsenal of rockets and other weapons.

Netanyahu has urged Abbas to dissolve the new government and cancel his agreement with Hamas. Abbas says his Cabinet, comprised of professional technocrats with no ties to Hamas, remains committed to his political program.

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