Friday, 22 March, 2019

Israeli military begins attacking Gaza sites after rocket attack

15 2019 shows an Israeli Merkava battle tank near the border with the Gaza Strip near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz in southern Israel Rockets fired from Gaza target Tel Aviv for first time since 2014
Jeannette Daniel | 17 March, 2019, 00:32

Israel conducts new airstrikes against the Gaza Strip amid rising tensions with Palestinians in the besieged region.

The attacks are seen as a retaliation against earlier strikes from Israeli military aircraft, which bombed Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out airstrikes on more than 100 targets in Gaza, including a claimed headquarters for planning attacks in the West Bank and an underground manufacturing site for rockets.

According to the Israeli army, two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory.

The apparent misfire came as Gaza's Hamas rulers were in negotiations with Egyptian mediators about a truce deal with Israel.

Following the first retaliatory Israeli air strikes, several additional rounds of rocket fire were launched into Israel. The Israeli military said several rockets were intercepted by its air defence systems, and there were no reports of injuries.

Hamas denied responsibility for the attacks, saying the two rockets were launched during maintenance work, but it is one of the only groups in Gaza capable of striking Tel Aviv with rocket fire.

In October 2018, a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza fell into the sea off Tel Aviv and another hit the southern city of Beersheba.

Rockets fired from Gaza target Tel Aviv for first time since 2014

These strikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an urgent "security consultation" with his defense chiefs in Tel Aviv late Thursday night.

The officials were quoted Friday in Israeli media.

An initial investigation revealed that the two Iran-made Fajr rockets were launched during a meeting of Hamas officials and the visiting Egyptian mediation team, which suggests that the last thing Hamas wanted at that point was provoking Israel. Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas took over the territory in 2007. Four people were injured in the response attacks in Gaza.

On Friday, Islamic Jihad's armed wing said in a statement that it had put its fighters on full alert to respond to Israeli attacks.

"Fighter planes, combat helicopters and (other) aircrafts attacked some 100 terrorist targets of the Hamas terrorist organization throughout the Gaza Strip".

The Israeli military said it was targeting "terror sites" in Gaza, but gave no further details.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu issued a warning to Hamas, rejecting suggestions that Israel would be reluctant to take tough action in Gaza ahead of national elections next month.

In the bustling coastal city of Tel Aviv, sirens wailed late Thursday in scenes reminiscent of the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza militants. But Hamas denied any involvement with the escalation, as did Islamic Jihad.

More news: Mass shootings at New Zealand mosques kill 49; 1 man charged

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