Gaza: Israeli warplanes strike ‘Hamas targets’

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Gaza: Israeli warplanes strike ‘Hamas targets’

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More than 200 people have been killed by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return protests began on March 30 [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa /Reuters]
More than 200 people have been killed by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return protests began on March 30 [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa /Reuters]

Israeli warplanes hit several locations in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday causing extensive damage to property in the besieged territory, according to the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.

The fighter jets targeted a military compound in the northern Gaza Strip and a training facility and a munitions manufacturing and storage site in the south, the Israeli military said in a statement.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the raids were in response to a rocket fired from Gaza which caused no casualties or damage but which evaded Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, triggering an inquiry.

Hamas, which governs the besieged strip, said there were no casualties in the strikes.

It comes a week after Israel carried out 20 air strikes following a rocket attack in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

Palestinain protesters in Gaza have demonstrated for their right of return in an organised movement since March [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Israel also announced temporary suspension of fuel deliveries to Gaza, which has been under an air, water and land blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.

Crippling blockade

Hamas and its allies disavowed the recent rocket fire blaming fringe groups bent on sabotaging UN and Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term truce in return for a relaxation of the crippling 11-year blockade of the territory.

But Israel has vowed repeatedly to hold Hamas responsible for any rocket fire regardless of who launched it.

The airstrikes come amid months of tension between Israel and Palestinian protesters.

The protesters have been demanding an end to Israel’s blockade and the right of return to land now inside Israel, from which their families were expelled in the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel. 

Palestinians refer to the war and accompanying displacement of roughly 700,000 as the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe”.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the territory by Israeli fire since the Great March of Return protests began on March 30. One Israeli soldier has been killed in the border area over the same period.

The air force on Wednesday struck a position in Gaza used by protesters to launch incendiary balloons into Israel, the military said.

Though the protests have been largely peaceful, some protesters have employed fire kites and balloons that burned large areas of Israeli farmland causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crop losses.

SOURCE:
AFP news agency

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