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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Palestinian Violence Renewed

GAZA CITY -- The Islamic militant group Hamas urged Palestinians to ratchet up attacks against Israel on Sunday after nine Palestinians were killed in a surge of fighting over the weekend.

The upswing in violence threatened to derail tentative steps toward peace taken recently by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and to unravel a five-month cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Sunday that Palestinians must brace for a new round of confrontation.

"The blood of our people is not cheap," Barhoum said in a statement, calling on Hamas fighters and other Palestinian militant groups to "be united in the trench of resistance and to use all possible means of resistance and to respond to the massacres.

Nine Palestinians were killed in the latest violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including two militants and a 17-year-old killed Sunday in the West Bank. The fighting also included a Palestinian rocket attack on the southern Israeli town of Sderot that damaged a home there.

Israeli officials defended the latest moves a part of operations that have been effective in drastically reducing the number of attacks against Israelis. But Palestinian officials charged that the new deaths jeopardized their efforts to expand the truce in Gaza to the West Bank.

After weeks of relative quiet, the latest surge in violence began Saturday, when five people were killed during Israeli arrest raids in the northern West Bank.

Israel sealed the West Bank and Gaza Strip early Sunday ahead of the country's Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, restricting the movement of Palestinians into Israel.