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Israel strikes Gaza, closes both border crossings after rocket attack

18 October, 2018, 08:59 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Screen Capture

Israel's military began targeting militant sites in Gaza on Wednesday, calling the attacks a response to earlier rockets that were launched from Gaza, one of which struck a residential home in southern Israel.

The caption for the award-winning image states: "Palestinian Saber Al-Ashkar, 29, hurls rocks during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, east of Gaza City, on May 11, 2018, as Palestinians demonstrate for the right to return to their historic homeland in what is now Israel".

A house in the southern Israel city Beersheva was hit causing damages, while a mother and three children had to treated for shock.

They killed one Palestinian in northern Gaza who the army said was set to launch a rocket.

The latest escalation came after Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signaled he had had enough of the relentless violence along the border with Gaza, and the significant increase in infiltration attempts from the coastal enclave.

Lieberman ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, and the reduction of the permitted fishing zone along the Gaza coast to three nautical miles, the defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, said. The Palestinian factions, however, denied launching the projectiles, at the same time, promising to continue their border protests. It has accused Hamas of using the mass protests as a cover to infiltrate into Israel and carry out attacks.

"Israel views with utmost gravity the attacks against it on the fence, on the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, on Be'er Sheva - everywhere".

Israel has drawn global condemnation for its use of deadly force, but says it is protecting its borders and civilian population.

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It had seen thousands of litres (gallons) of fuel paid for by Qatar delivered to generate desperately needed power in the impoverished territory.

This marked only the second time Beersheba - located around 40 kilometers from Gaza - has been targeted by rocket fire since the end of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

According to the sources, the Egyptian officials held intensive talks with leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad immediately after the pre-dawn rocket attacks on Israel.

On Saturday, Lieberman ordered deliveries of fuel to the besieged Gaza Strip to be suspended after protests on Friday during which seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops. He said a "serious blow" to Hamas would result in four or five years of quiet on Israel's border with the enclave.

Since March, 155 Palestinians have been killed during the protests.

Gaza's two million residents endure dire living conditions including a shortage of safe drinking water and regular power cuts, partly because of the lack of fuel for the strip's power station.

The protesters are demanding to be allowed to return to land now inside Israel, from which their families fled or were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.

The rocket attack was the latest in escalating violence, which has seen Palestinian rioting along the Gaza border for almost seven months. An IDF unit tried to push the Hamas squad back by using live fire, killing three terrorists and wounding several others.

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