Israel continues crackdown on suspected militants
Three killed, a dozen arrested in raids
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- For a sixth straight day, Israeli forces rounded up suspected Palestinian militants across the West Bank, killing three of them and arresting another dozen, an Israel Defense Forces representative said Thursday.
Israeli soldiers killed three members of Islamic Jihad -- two near the village of Burkin and another in Jenin -- after the men pointed machine guns at them, the IDF said, and the militants arrested overnight were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Over the last six days, Israeli forces have arrested 424 "wanted Palestinians" in response to dozens of Qassam rockets being fired into Israel, the IDF said.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces fired again at an open field near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza that the IDF said had been used to launch Qassam rockets into Israel.
Wednesday's attack followed a similar strike on an open field by the IDF in the same area on Tuesday.
The Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz quoted IDF operations chief Maj. Gen. Yisrael Ziv as saying that if Qassam attacks continue from the Beit Hanoun area, the IDF will launch an intense artillery barrage that "will turn this town into a demilitarized zone."
Ziv said it is now up to the Palestinian Authority to stop the rocket attacks now that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza.
"The Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority must make a decision whether they are masters of their fate or prisoners in the hands of Hamas and its like," Ziv said, referring to militant groups that have claimed responsibility for a series of rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza.
Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants have escalated since an explosion at a Hamas rally on Friday in Gaza that killed at least 19 Palestinians. Militants blamed the blast on Israel, which denied the claim.
Israel called it another example of Palestinian militants mistakenly setting off explosives that were intended to be used against Israelis.
The Palestinian Authority said the blast was an accident and was not Israel's responsibility.
CNN's Shira Medding contributed to this report.
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