Gaza ceasefire holds after Israel's 'hardest blow' against Hamas
15 July, 2018, 15:59 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
It says the targets belonged to Hamas. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests at the frontier held every week since March, including a teenager on Friday, Gaza medics said.
Hamas on Saturday said the barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory overnight was sacked by the "resistance" to "stop Israeli escalation". "Hamas is responsible for the events transpiring in Gaza and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions", the IDF said.
The strikes, the army said, were conducted in response to Hamas-instigated violence along the security fence at the Israeli-Gaza border, and to the cross-border arson attacks which, the IDF claimed, damages Israeli land on a daily basis.
Israel Defence Forces said almost 100 rockets and mortar shells were fired in less than 24 hours, setting off warning sirens in border communities.
Two Palestinian teenagers were killed and three Israelis were wounded.
The Israeli military said Friday's protesters were throwing burning tyres, stones, explosive devices and fire bombs at its soldiers and that one of its officers was wounded by a Palestinian grenade hurled across the border fence. A senior Israeli defense official said, "Only the facts on the ground will dictate our further response".
He was referring to a border protest Friday in which two Palestinians were killed.
Striking in the heart of Gaza City is typically only seen during full-blown conflicts like the war of 2014 and could mark a sign that violence is escalating.
Around 10 other passers-by were wounded, the officials said.
It was one of the most serious flare-ups of fighting since the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, but Israel's chief military spokesman, Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis, said it was premature to say whether it heralded the start of a broader campaign against militants in the enclave, run by the Islamist movement Hamas.
The Israeli army said air strikes carried out in the morning hit "complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility".
The Israeli troops fired live ammunition and tear gas shells towards the demonstrators, leaving over people injured, the Gaza Health Ministry also reported.
The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza has led border protests aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. Most recently, it has been struggling to cope with the widespread fires caused by the incendiary kites and balloons floating over the border.
Some also targeted Hamas tunnels in northern and southern Gaza.
Among the main targets was the "Hamas Battalion HQ in Beit Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, (a) weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centres, offices and more", the Israeli army said in a statement.
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