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Gaza ceasefire holds after heavy Israel strikes, Hamas rocket fire

15 July, 2018, 15:59 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Palestinian teenager killed in Gaza border protests

Mr Netanyahu said: "The IDF has struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary".

Among the targets was a Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip where the IDF said it had hit an urban warfare training compound, ammunition storage depots and command centers.

Two Palestinians were killed and one was wounded in an explosion on Sunday in a building in Gaza, health officials said.

The IDF in response struck two Gaza positions where the mortar shells were believed to have been launched from, and the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted one of two rockets. "We will not accept any acts of terror against us", Steinitz said, stressing that additional attacks on southern Israel would be dealt with harshly.

Rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, the Israeli military said, without causing any casualties.

Volatility along the border has intensified since Gazans launched near-weekly protests against Israel in late March.

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

Gaza health officials say more than 130 Palestinians were killed and 15,000 others injured by Israeli forces during the protests.

Relatives of 15-year-old Othman Hilles mourn during his funeral in the family home in Gaza City Saturday
Relatives of 15-year-old Othman Hilles mourn during his funeral in the family home in Gaza City Saturday

Israel's Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said the air strikes were meant to put an end to such attacks but should not be seen as the start of a military campaign against the Palestinian territory of 2 million, devastated by seven weeks of war with Israel four years ago. "We have no intention to harm anyone who is not a terrorist", he said.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Jonathan Conricus said the goal of Saturday's operation was to stop arson attacks, attempted border breaches, and assaults on soldiers from Gaza that have grown increasingly violent.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered near the Gaza border for their near-weekly protest.

Around 10 other passers-by were wounded, the officials said.

There have also been hundreds of fires at Israeli farms caused by kites and balloons carrying firebombs from Gaza, leading to political pressure on the government and military to take action against Hamas.

A bomb drops from an Israeli fighter over Gaza City, Gaza.

Since the protests and clashes broke out along the border on March 30, at least 141 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. The army said protesters attacked soldiers with grenades, bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks. Most of the recent rockets from Gaza have been fired by smaller factions.

Poverty is widespread and vital infrastructure has collapsed under a 12-year blockade by Israel, which says its aim is to curb security threats by Hamas.

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