Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Israel Hammers Gaza After 200 Rockets Hit Israel

Soroka Hospital staff moving premature babies to rocket-proof areas in the facility Soroka Hospital staff moving premature babies to rocket-proof areas in the facility
Jeannette Daniel | 10 August, 2018, 07:40

Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, agreed on a truce on Thursday, two Palestinian officials said, an understanding that would end an escalation in fighting that has drawn mutual threats of war.

According to a report by Hadashot news, the Hamas leadership blamed a radical Salafist group in the Gaza Strip for launching the rocket 40 kilometers away, provoking the Israeli retaliation. Local health officials said 18 bystanders were wounded by the blast.

While Israeli officials insisted that their large-scale attack on Gaza was in response to Hamas rocket fire, Haaretz reports that it was in fact the Israeli army that sparked the escalation by killing two Palestinians with tank fire, after they allegedly mistook a training exercise for an actual attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet late into the night on Thursday.

The long-range missile fired on Thursday was the first of its kind since the 2014 war.

While the rocket didn't caused any damage, Beersheva mayor Ruvik Danilovich told Kan news, "No country in the world would tolerate such a deterioration of security and a constant threat to their citizens". Hamas denied using the facility.

"The strike was carried out in response to the rockets fired by Hamas at Israel, one of which was sacked at the city of Be'er Sheva, which is more than 24 miles from Gaza", the IDF Spokesperson added.

The building is home to a popular theater and exhibits plays and other shows on a daily basis.

Brig. -Gen. (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the Israeli-Hamas flare up was a show of force by Hamas to highlight that any deal they may make with Israel was not due to any weakness on its part.

Residents said the building had served mainly as a cultural centre.

A plume of smoke rises from the remains of a building west of Gaza City that was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day on August 9, 2018. Hamas' Interior Ministry, including its secret police, has offices in an adjacent site, but those offices were not hit in the airstrike.

More news: Israeli strike kills Hamas militants in Gaza

The military said 30 of the some 180 rockets and mortars fired at Israel were intercepted by air defence systems.

Kamal Khamash, the brother-in-law of the pregnant mother who died alongside her child, told the Associated Press that the family was asleep when the projectile hit the house.

At the United Nations, Israel's ambassador, Danny Danon, urged the secretary-general and U.N. Security Council to condemn Hamas militants for what he called "the unprovoked terrorist attack" on southern Israel.

A source familiar with the negotiations said Egypt and the United Nations had negotiated a return to calm starting shortly before midnight Thursday, seemingly bringing an end to the upturn in violence.

Tension along the Israel-Gaza border has escalated since late March, when Hamas launched what would become regular mass protests along Israel's perimeter fence with Gaza.

The military said Israel was targeted with around 180 rockets and mortars from late Wednesday into Thursday.

The incident occurred while a group of senior Hamas leaders from overseas were visiting Gaza to discuss the ceases-fire efforts with local leaders. This comes less than 24 hours after Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinians on Wednesday night.

In the Israeli airstrikes that followed, three Palestinians were killed, including a 23-year old pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

The army's rhetoric has been echoed by Israeli politicians and government bodies over the course of Thursday, with the Foreign Ministry saying that Israel was "defending itself from from Hamas' aggression".

"If the current escalation, however, is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people", he said in a statement. But it has come under heavy worldwide criticism for its frequent use of force against unarmed protesters.

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