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Biden, Buttigieg condemn rocket attacks on Israel

Presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg condemned rocket attacks against Israel as violence escalates with militant groups in the Gaza Strip. 

"Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist threats. It is intolerable that Israeli civilians live their lives under the constant fear of rocket attacks. That's why our administration was such a strong supporter of Israel's life-saving Iron Dome," former Vice President Biden tweeted Tuesday.

"I strongly condemn the rocket attacks on the citizens of southern and central Israel. Israel has a right to defend itself against acts of terror that set back any progress towards peace and will only serve to inflame the humanitarian situation in Gaza," Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., added Wednesday.

The tweets come as fighting escalates between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Militants in the territory have launched more than 360 rockets into Israel, according to the Israeli military, after Israeli forces killed Islamic Jihad leader Baha abu al-Ata in an early morning raid Tuesday.

"He initiated, planned and carried out many terrorist attacks. He fired hundreds of rockets at communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, whose suffering we have seen. He was in the midst of planning additional attacks in the immediate short term. He was a ticking bomb," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, referring to al-Ata.

"I would like to reiterate: Israel is not interested in escalation, but will do everything necessary to defend ourselves," he added.

At least three Palestinians were killed and 30 wounded in retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip, according to Haaretz. The Israeli military has launched a series of counterattacks, saying it has killed 20 militants since Tuesday morning, most of whom belonged to Islamic jihad.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, two other Democratic White House candidates, also condemned the rocket launches. 

Israel has faced criticism over its counterstrikes, however, with detractors saying it uses disproportionate force in its response.

"There is great imbalance in force used by the IDF and the casualties faced by Palestinians," tweeted the progressive group IfNotNow. "Only in Gaza are civilians killed and wounded in these numbers. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians should live in fear of violence but this context cannot be ignored."

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