BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip – Palestinians fired rockets at an Israeli port city and Israel carried out attacks in Gaza, killing 10, the day its forces pulled out of this northern Gaza town at the end of a bloody, destructive weeklong sweep.
The Israeli raid on Beit Hanoun was aimed at stopping or at least reducing the rocket attacks from Gaza, but the barrages continued through the week and intensified after the pullout. On Tuesday, militants fired five rockets at Ashkelon, an Israeli port city 12 kilometers (seven miles) from the Gaza-Israel fence, the farthest the homemade rockets have landed from the border. No one was hurt, and Israel hit back with artillery.
Also Tuesday, militants fired at least three rockets at the town of Sderot, just across the Gaza fence, launching them not far from the area Israel invaded.
Separately, early Wednesday, four militants were killed in an Israeli ambush operation near the West Bank town of Jenin, and a civilian died in the crossfire, Palestinian security and medical officials said. The military said it was checking into the report.
More than 60 Palestinians were killed during the weeklong raid in Beit Hanoun. Both sides said most were militants, but women and children also died. Israel said it arrested dozens of others.
Israel left destruction behind in Beit Hanoun. Houses were damaged, roads destroyed, water pipes crushed and electricity lines torn down. The Israelis left high mounds of sand blocking main roads.
Palestinian leaders denounced the offensive, but internal problems remained unsolved as negotiations to form a unity government and end an international aid boycott dragged on.
During an emotional funeral procession, tens of thousands of mourners filed behind ambulances carrying 23 bodies. The funerals had been delayed because the bodies could not be retrieved from the hospital.
Women wailed as the bodies of the dead were brought out to the streets on stretchers draped with Palestinian flags, and children ran alongside the procession. Crowds chanted "God is great."
The ambulances struggled to drive along the damaged roads. Dozens of gunmen packed into loudspeaker cars, blaring nationalist songs and the slogans of militant factions, and other militants fired volleys into the air. The streets were awash in Palestinian flags and flags of militant groups.
President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Israel for continuing its attacks after leaving Beit Hanoun. "If Israel appeals for security and stability, shedding the blood of Palestinians is not the way," he said.
At the same time, Palestinian leaders struggled to find a formula for a new government, with the aim of ending eight months of crippling Western aid sanctions. The sanctions were imposed after Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, won legislative elections.
Though his talks with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas did not produce an accord, Abbas remained hopeful. "I hope that we will reach to a conclusion within days, or maybe within less than days," Abbas told reporters Tuesday evening.
The two sides differ over deeply held principles. Fatah negotiated interim peace accords with Israel in the 1990s and favors more peace talks, while the Islamic militant Hamas, despite Western demands, refuses to recognize Israel, rejects the agreements and endorses violent resistance.
The West cut off aid to the Palestinians when the Hamas-led government took office in March, and many public sector workers have not been paid since then. The West insists that the Palestinian government must accept its conditions before aid is restored.
Abbas hopes to form a government comprised of independent experts that will be accepted by the West.