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Cease-fire tensions rise in Gaza

A week-old truce between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza frayed further Thursday when Palestinian militants launched two rockets against Israel and Israel prevented goods from entering Gaza for a second day.

One of the rockets fell harmlessly in an open area across the Israeli border, a military spokesman said. No details were available about the second.

Israel sealed the border crossings Wednesday in response to a rocket attack on Tuesday, the first serious breach of the Egyptian-brokered agreement for calm. In light of the latest rocket fire, Israeli officials were still deliberating Thursday about when to reopen the crossings.

Neither side talked of calling off the cease-fire, but each accused the other of violating the deal that took effect June 19.

Aside from the rockets and border sanctions, there have been several reports from Gaza of Israeli troops along the border opening fire to force Palestinian farmers away from agricultural land near the border fence. There have been similar reports of shooting from Israeli navy vessels to keep Palestinian fisherman within proscribed areas close to the shore.

According to data provided by a U.N. official in the region, two elderly Palestinian men were seriously wounded by the army fire, including a farmer, 82.

Israeli military officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity under army rules, acknowledged that forces had fired into the air as a warning on Wednesday, when a group of people were spotted approaching the border fence east of Khan Yunis, but said there was no record of anybody having been hit.

Before the cease-fire, militants often laid, or tried to lay, explosives along the border fence. The army is also on guard against infiltrations.

The cease-fire agreement is only meant to apply to Gaza, but some of the smaller groups have reserved the right to respond to any deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank – a point over which informal truce understandings have broken down in the past.

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