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Israel launches new strikes in Gaza

Palestinian Prime Minister urges calm on both sides
A Palestinian militant takes position behind a wall Saturday in a clash with Israelis near Gaza City.




GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Israel launched more attacks against targets in Gaza early Sunday, continuing its bid to retrieve a soldier who was kidnapped two weeks ago.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya urged both sides Saturday to lay down their arms, but a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that was out of the question until 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit was returned and militant attacks into Israel were halted.

One man was killed and seven were wounded -- including three Hamas militants -- when the Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes against two cars east of Rafah on Sunday, Palestinian security and medical sources said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed it fired more than one missile targeting suspected terrorists.

Earlier Sunday, Israel launched an aerial attack against a group of armed gunmen in Gaza City, another attack on a Fatah post near Khan Yunis and an attack on a bridge south of Beit Hanoun, the Israel Defense Forces reported.

Four people were wounded in the Gaza City attack, according to Palestinian sources.

"There are some aircraft shooting some deterrent fire" at suspected militant cells in Dahaniya in southern Gaza, an Israeli government official said. "The purpose of that is basically to prevent rocket-launching cells from launching and firing their rockets."

He denied reports that Israeli troops have re-entered northern Gaza. Israeli soldiers and tanks left the area Saturday after searching for tunnels near Beit Hanoun where militants might be hiding.

Israeli forces are now in parts of Gaza's eastern region and in the south, where they are focused on the airport and on vacant buildings that are potential militant hideouts, the spokesman said.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government issued a statement saying it wants to intensify negotiations regarding Shalit, who was kidnapped by Palestinian militants during a cross-border raid June 25 that left two other Israeli soldiers dead.

Israel began hammering Gaza three days later with artillery and airstrikes.

Egypt has led the way on negotiations thus far, but President Hosni Mubarak said that Israel had rejected a proposal for a prisoner swap to secure Shalit's release. Israel has said in the past that a prisoner swap would encourage more kidnappings. (Watch Mideast leaders try to defuse tensions -- 2:03)

On Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel had promised Mubarak that it would release Palestinian politicians in Israeli custody and certain other prisoners if Shalit were released, a claim Israel has disputed.

Since Shalit's kidnapping, the Israeli military has taken about 60 Palestinian Cabinet members, lawmakers and other officials into custody.

"Mubarak received those promises, and I heard them from Israeli officials. Once the soldier is released, they will do that and will pull out and will release the Cabinet members in custody," Abbas said at a news conference.

But Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told Israeli television that he had consulted with Olmert, who repeated there will be no prisoner release and no negotiations with Hamas.

Shalit is believed to be alive and in good condition.

In fighting Saturday, an Israeli drone carried out a rocket attack on a Gaza City house where militants were holed up, witnesses said. Medical sources said a 20-year-old man, a 4-year-old girl and another person were killed.

The IDF said an Israeli aerial attack targeted gunmen near the Karni crossing area but did not hit a house.

Three other Palestinians died in violence Saturday, Palestinian security sources said. A 26-year-old man died in Israeli shelling in the Erez crossing area, and two men were killed by tank shells east of Gaza City, the sources said.

The IDF said its troops were not shelling the Erez area.

The Israeli army earlier acknowledged attacking three Palestinian militants but had no information on their condition.

Fighting on Friday left nine Palestinians dead in Gaza, Palestinian sources said. No Israelis were killed. (Full story)

The escalating conflict prompted U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to urge the U.N. Security Council to address the situation in Gaza.

CNN's Nidal Rafa contributed to this report.

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