Intensive Israeli airstrikes blitz Gaza strip


Israeli aircraft attacked targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, unleashing dozens of strikes in swift succession according to Reuters witnesses.

The aerial bombardment set off earth-shaking thuds and fireballs in the dark sky and were met with screeches of Palestinian rocket fire launched from the outskirts of Gaza City towards southern Israel.

The airstrikes marked an escalation of two days of reciprocal attacks between the Palestinian militant Hamas group ensconced in the coastal enclave and the Israeli military, which killed a top Islamist leader on Wednesday.

Israel's military said that in the space of an hour it had targeted approximately 70 underground launching sites for medium-range rockets.

“The sites that have been targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence collected over the course of months.” it said in a statement.

Residents said the military assault also destroyed an electricity generator that fed the house of Hamas's prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. It was unclear whether he was at home at the time.

Israeli aircraft also bombed a police station in central Gaza and tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt through which basic civilian goods and arms destined for militant groups pass into the Strip, which is under a tight blockade by Israel and Egypt.

Hours earlier, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another armed party in Gaza, launched two missiles against Tel Aviv — the first time Israel's commercial capital has come under such attack since the 1991 Gulf War. No injuries or damage was reported.

Reporting By Noah Browning; editing by Crispian Balmer

Israeli airstrikes kill Islamic Jihad member


Israel’s Air Force killed a Palestinian gunman in Gaza.

The Islamic Jihad member was killed, and five comrades wounded, after midnight Wednesday in airstrikes that Israel said prevented terrorists from firing rockets across the border. The Palestinians said Israeli ground forces also carried out a brief foray over the border, east of Gaza City.

Israel and Islamic Jihad have traded fire recently while Hamas, which controls Gaza, has appeared to prefer staying on the sidelines. The prisoner swap in mid-October under which Israel repatriated captive soldier Gilad Shalit deprived Hamas of what was widely seen as “insurance” against Israeli targeting its leadership in military retaliations.

Hamas, the dominant Palestinians Islamist movement, which in the past has proposed, with heavy conditions, a truce with the Jewish state, is also biding its time as the kindred Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt gathers political power in Cairo.

Israel, Gaza terrorists enter cease-fire


Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza reportedly agreed to a cease-fire.

The agreement came late Sunday night and was followed by a Kassam rocket fired on Ashkelon and ten mortar shells that hit southern Israel. Israel did not respond to the rockets, showing that the cease-fire was holding, according to reports.

The agreement came hours after government ministers ordered the army “to continue to act against those responsible for terrorism.”

The cease-fire came after a weekend in which more than 120 rockets were fired at Israel, including one that struck a school bus seriously injuring a teen, and in which Israeli retaliatory strikes on terrorism sites killed 19 Gaza Palestinians.

“We will judge the other side over the next few days. The extent to which Hamas controls the other militant groups will affect the way we choose to act,” a senior Israeli official told Reuters.

A senior Palestinian source quoted in the international Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Aswat said that Egypt is working to seal the current unwritten cease-fire and asked the United Nations envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry to help in negotiations

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday decried the ceasefire, telling Israel Radio that “Hamas is fighting a war of attrition against us. We won’t come to terms with a situation in which they decide when there’s quiet and when the area heats up.”

He accused Hamas of taking advantage of the recent months of relative quiet to smuggle in more and farther-reaching rockets.

Israeli military strikes on Gaza began April 7 after Hamas fired an anti-tank rocket at a school bus, critically injuring a teenage boy and the bus driver.

IDF strikes kill nine in Gaza as barrage of mortars hits Israel


Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip killed four Hamas militants and five Palestinian civilians on Friday as a fresh spike in cross-border violence continued for a second day.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had “identified two terrorist squads from Hamas” and hit them from the ground and air.

An elderly Palestinian and two women died when their house in Khan Younis was hit and three other women were wounded, hospital sources said.

Following the IDF attack in Gaza, a barrage of rockets and mortar shells was fired at Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip, and one of the shells exploded in a chicken coop in the Eshkol Regional Council in the Negev.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

Teen injured critically when Gaza rocket hits bus, Israel retaliates


An Israeli teen was critically injured when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the school bus in which he was riding.

The driver of the bus, which had dropped off all the schoolchildren except for the injured teen, also was wounded by shrapnel in Thursday afternoon’s attack, Haaretz reported.

It is unclear whether the bus, traveling near Kibbutz Sa’ad, located next to the Gaza border, was struck by a mortar or an anti-tank missile.

The teen, who was resuscitated at the site of the attack, was airlifted to a hospital in Beersheba.

A barrage of 16 rockets and mortars struck southern Israel following the bus attack. Roads near the area of the attack were closed to prevent further injury, according to reports.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered an immediate retaliation for the attack. The Israel Defense Forces reportedly launched an attack on targets east of Gaza City less than an hour later, killing one and wounding five, according to Palestinian officials, Ynet reported.

A statement issued from Barak’s office said he ordered the strike on a Hamas target in Gaza because “he holds Hamas responsible for all terrorist attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.” No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli airstrikes hit two smuggling tunnels in northern Gaza.

On Tuesday, Israeli tanks killed an armed Palestinian as he approached the border between Gaza and Israel at the same time that three mortar bombs exploded in southern Israel.

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