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Fixtures in southern Israel cancelled due to Gaza fighting

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israel Football Association have called off two Premier League fixtures set for Saturday due to the offensive Israel launched on Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The matches between Hapoel Beersheba and Hapoel Ramat Gan, and Ashdod SC and Hapoel Acre were postponed after the police and the military barred large gatherings because of a fear of rocket strikes by Palestinian militants.

The latest phase of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict sharpened on Wednesday when Israel killed Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the military mastermind of Islamist faction Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Following Jaabari's assassination in a precision air strike on his car, more than 270 rockets hit Israel and it shelled the Gaza Strip from land, air and sea. Three Israelis were killed by a rocket on Thursday and 19 Palestinians have died.

The Israeli FA said the rest of the weekend league program, thought to be largely out of range of the rockets, would go ahead as planned. Lower league and junior fixtures in the south of the country were also canceled.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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