Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Israel Says Carrying Out Air Strikes "Throughout Gaza Strip"

Israeli security forces and firefighters gather near a bus set ablaze after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave Israel Says Carrying Out Air Strikes "Throughout Gaza Strip"
Lora Ball | 13 November, 2018, 19:46

The IDF said Tuesday morning that it had struck around 150 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, including military compounds, weapons manufacturing sites and rocket launching sites throughout the Gaza Strip.

At least two projectiles hit houses, while an anti-tank missile hit a bus transporting soldiers near the border, the military said, critically injuring a 19-year-old soldier.

Although violence in Gaza has flared sporadically in recent months, Monday's exchange reached a new pitch.

Hamas called for an global investigation into what it claimed was Israel's "deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian facilities", while the Israeli army claimed it has carried out a successful missile strike against the group's military intelligence headquarters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed back to Israel on Monday, hours after an Israeli army officer and seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, were killed after an incursion by Israeli special forces into the Gaza Strip.

Relatives of Hamad al-Nahal, a member of the Islamic Jihad killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip a day earlier, carry his body during his funeral in Rafah, on November 13, 2018.

As worldwide mediators worked to broker a ceasefire, neither side showed any sign of backing down. The offices of the Hamas-operated Al-Aqsa television channel were also hit by the IDF following warnings.

Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories, said that Hamas had crossed a "red line" and that the military would "dial up" its response.

Undercover Israeli special forces entered around two kilometres into the territory in a civilian auto near the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, opening fire when they were discovered, the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, said in a statement.

The Israeli Army confirmed that one of its officers was killed and another was injured. Hamas responded by lowering the intensity of the border protest last Friday.

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Egypt, which borders Gaza to the south, urged Israel to back down.

Homes in the southern cities of Sderot, Netivot and Ashkelon were hit by rockets.

Workers had evacuated the building after the warning shots, and there were no immediate reports of casualties. "We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks".

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum described it as a "blatant aggression against journalism" and called on worldwide bodies to denounce the strike.

The escalation in fighting followed a covert raid by Israeli forces that went wrong after Hamas fighters became aware of it. "AUT is fully committed to Israel's security".

The Hamas statement said Baraka was "assassinated".

The empty vehicle apparently used by the Israeli force was reduced to a charred chassis after aircraft fired several missiles at it, leaving a gaping crater in the ground.

Eyewitnesses said a house was targeted by Israeli war jets in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Haaretz's lead editorial argues that the current flareup isn't a sign of the need to smash Hamas, but to find a way to deal with it, and Gaza.

The Palestinians believe it was an assassination operation - a claim denied by the Israelis. "We are ready to expand our actions against terrorist organizations", IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

And so the Iron Dome's high interception success rate remained undiminished: out of about 400 rockets, the batteries intercepted 120 rockets that would've otherwise fallen in populated areas.

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