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Israeli jets hit Gaza in response to city attacks

Israeli warplanes hit Hamas targets in Gaza early today, retaliating for rocket attacks on Israeli cities, as tension peaked over the first deadly bombing targeting Israelis in Jerusalem in several years.

An explosion that Israel quickly blamed on Palestinian militants ripped through a bus stop here Wednesday, killing a woman, wounding two dozen other people and intensifying fears that a period of relative calm could be ending as hopes for a negotiated peace fade. Police said a 4-pound bomb went off in a small bag placed at the site.

Violence has been on the rise, with the knife slaying this month of a Jewish settler family as they slept and the deaths of civilians in the Gaza Strip by Israeli strikes Tuesday in retaliation for rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled area.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned militants not to test Israel's "iron will" and vowed a tough response to the bombing.

"Since this government was formed, we had a clear security policy -- an immediate and aggressive response to every attempt to harm Israeli citizens," he said after spending the evening huddled with his defense minister, military chief and other top security officials. "We will act aggressively, responsibly and wisely in order to preserve the quiet and security that endured here the past two years."

Retaliating, Israeli warplanes attacked several Hamas facilities and smuggling tunnels in Gaza, Hamas said. No one was reported injured.

The bombing along with a rocket barrage Wednesday on the southern city of Beersheba, come at a delicate diplomatic moment and could have far-reaching consequences, especially if Israel retaliates or more attacks follow.

The virulently anti-Israel Hamas had no comment on Wednesday's attack. Hamas' Palestinian rival, the moderate Palestinian Authority, quickly condemned the bombing "in the strongest terms."

Police, accompanied by sniffer dogs, broke into cars near the bomb site to search for evidence and additional explosives, but none were found.

The last suicide bombing in Jerusalem was in 2004, and the last suicide bombing in Israel occurred in 2008 in the southern town of Dimona.

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