Israeli soldier, three Palestinian militants, protester killed in Gaza escalation

Pauline Gross
July 21, 2018

TEL AVIV-Israel's military said late Friday it has launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas after one of its soldiers was killed by fire from the Gaza Strip, an escalation that raises concerns of a wider conflict.

"In the wake of IDF gunfire during the riots in the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF attacked a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip using aircraft and tanks, the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement".

The United Nations urged all sides to step "back from the brink" after months of increasing tensions, with a fourth Palestinian reported shot dead during protests along the border with Israel.

The Israeli army said three projectiles were fired into Israel by Palestinian militants.

Hamas, the enclave's Islamist rulers, has reported three members of its military wing killed; Shaban abu Khatar, Mohammed abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.

"Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions", the military warned.

The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot. The Gaza Health Ministry said four Palestinians were killed. Others have been killed by Israeli air strikes or by tank fire.

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Israel has said it is defending its sovereign border.

"Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink", tweeted U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who is among those attempting to broker a cease-fire.

Israel's military said the strikes in Gaza were ongoing.

Protesters are demanding the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. Efforts to broker a cease-fire have stumbled over the Palestinians' continuing practice of launching fire-carrying kites and balloons from Gaza into Israel.

But more recently, some Gaza officials said the protests would end if Israel lifted an economic blockade of the Strip.

Khalil al-Hayya, a top Hamas leader, said "the protests will remain, flaming and existing, and its tools will multiply and diversify, including kites, until our goals are achieved".

Other reports by GizPress

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