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Gen. Gantz said an Israeli airstrike that killed five militants in Gaza in late October set back the Islamic Jihad militant group’s rocket operations. That came during a sudden spike in rocket attacks that disrupted life in Israel’s south.

The military chief said, “We cannot keep having round after round [of violence] in Gaza.”

Israel went to war in Gaza in late 2008 following years of rocket fire.

SYRIA

Soldiers killed in clash with defectors

BEIRUT — Dozens of soldiers and security forces were gunned down by suspected army defectors in southern Syria, a deadly ambush that occurred as President Bashar Assad increasingly appears unable to manage the crisis, activists said Tuesday.

Monday’s hours-long clash in the southern province of Daraa came on a particularly bloody day in Syria, with as many as 90 people killed across the country.

The brazen attack by the army defectors suggested a new confidence among troops who have sided with the protesters and highlighted the potential for an armed confrontation to escalate.

The U.N. estimates the regime’s military crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising has killed 3,500 people in the past eight months. November is shaping up to be the bloodiest month of the revolt, with many more than 300 people killed so far.

The latest death toll was compiled by sources including the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Local Coordination Committees activist coalition and morgue officials.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the human rights observatory, confirmed that 34 soldiers were killed in an ambush in Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising that began in mid-March, inspired by successful revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and later Libya.

ISRAEL

Lawmakers push contentious bills

JERUSALEM — At the end of a stormy debate, Israeli lawmakers pushed ahead two bills that critics say would threaten the independence of the country’s Supreme Court, just days after Cabinet ministers advanced another proposal to sharply limit funding for dovish groups.

Opponents say both developments reflect attempts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to stifle dissent and pluralism.

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