Israel strikes Gaza militant sites, Palestinians fire rockets

Pauline Gross
July 15, 2018

However, Palestinian officials said a ceasefire had now been agreed thanks to "Egyptian and global efforts".

Israel Defence Forces said almost 100 rockets and mortar shells were fired in less than 24 hours, setting off warning sirens in border communities.

Shortly after, Israeli medical officials said three Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a house in southern Israel.

Even as the airstrikes were being carried out, the IDF said rockets were fired toward Israel.

Hamas's Barhoum said the group was responsible for the barrage against Israel and that it was carried out "in response to the Israeli air strikes".

The military said its jets targeted two Hamas tunnels as well as other military compounds, including those involved in the spate of incendiary kite and balloon attacks.

In a relatively rare admission, Hamas said it fired the rockets to deter Israel from further action. Rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, the Israeli military said, without causing any casualties.

The violent exchanges have left two people killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials, with 12 more injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We will expand the scope of our reaction to Hamas' terror attacks as much as needed".

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The ceasefire followed a day in which some 200 projectiles were launched at communities near the Gaza border, putting the area on war footing.

Israel's Education Minister and leader of coalition party, Naftali Bennett, slammed a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which was announced on Saturday night to end nearly twenty-four hours of fighting, calling it a "serious mistake".

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said late Saturday the Islamist movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, had agreed to an "Egyptian offer to return to a ceasefire to stop this escalation".

"We are talking about the biggest offensive strikes since Protective Edge", Air Force Brigadier General Tzvika Haimovic told journalists, referring to Israel's name for its 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip. Some were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missiles.

In fresh violence Friday, a 15-year-old was shot dead during the demonstrations and a 20-year-old died later of gunshot wounds sustained during the protest, the Gaza health ministry said.

Later the military said an Israeli officer was moderately wounded by a grenade thrown at him.

Israeli fighter pilots struck a five-story building in the Shati section of the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City that allegedly served as the "Palestinian National Library", originally intended for use as a public building but converted instead by Hamas to an urban terrorist training base, complete with a tunnel dug beneath for specialize subterranean warfare training.

"Allowing Hamas to dictate the terms of the ceasefire after two months of arson attacks and hundreds of rockets on the residents of Gaza border communities is a serious mistake".

The deaths bring to over 140 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the Great Return March rallies began in Gaza on March 30th.

Other reports by GizPress

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