Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Israeli air strikes hit blockaded Gaza

Palestinian Hamas top leader Ismail Haniyeh waves to protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel Oct. 12 2018 Looks Downfield….Intercepted
Patty Aguilar | 27 October, 2018, 13:29

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The Israeli army accused the Syrian government on Saturday of ordering Palestinian militants in Gaza supported by Iran to fire dozens of rockets into southern Israel, and threatened to retaliate wherever it chose.

The fighting followed a bloody day of border protests, in which Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians protesting along the perimeter fence dividing Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel. Loud explosions were heard following the attacks.

There were no reports of casualties in Gaza as a result of the Israeli air strikes, which began late Friday and continued on Saturday.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller militant group, implicitly claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

It was the first such fire from Gaza since October 17 when a rocket severely damaged a family home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, prompting some 20 retaliatory air strikes and the temporary suspension of fuel deliveries to Gaza.

Israel has fought three wars since 2008 with Hamas and its allies, including Islamic Jihad, and Egypt and the United Nations have been leading diplomatic efforts to avert a fourth.

"The Hamas terror organisation is responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it", the army said on Thursday.

The projectiles were launched just hours after five Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during clashes on the border.

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Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas resistance movement, expressed its readiness to strike the occupied territories "with thousands of missiles".

Egypt wants to restore calm in order to pursue the broader goal of Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and the West Bank-based administration of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dozens were also injured by tear gas fired by Israeli forces towards the demonstrators participating in the protests, which were held for the 31st week in a row.

Israel accuses Hamas of orchestrating the often violent demonstrations.

Earlier, five Palestinians aged between 22 and 27 died in separate incidents along the border fence, the Gaza health ministry said.

The Defense Ministry's liaison to the Palestinians said a mortar launched during the barrages struck the ambulance terminal at the Erez border crossing, the sole pedestrian passage between Gaza and Israel.

"More rockets from Gaza into Israel".

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