Israel inflicts new attacks on Hamas Gaza
Israel has carried out new strikes on Gaza after rockets were fired overnight from the Palestinian enclave, breaking a shaky truce agreed this week.
“Two rockets were fired from the Gaza strip towards Israeli territory,” the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said in statement. Both were intercepted by it air defence system.
Unlike earlier operations, the IDF’s retaliation did not target the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, but Hamas, a military and political faction that rules Gaza. The Israeli military said its jets had bombed several sites run by the faction.
“The IDF holds the Hamas terror organization responsible for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it,” the IDF statement said. “Hamas will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli civilians.”
The new strikes into Gaza came two days after Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, halting the worst bout of fighting in months. Hamas, which months ago agreed to a long-term ceasefire with Israel, had largely attempting to stay out of the fighting.
Hamas did not claim the overnight rocket launches, and it was not immediately clear who fired them. Several smaller militant groups also operate in Gaza. By mid-morning, no more projectiles had been fired from Gaza.
On Tuesday, Israel sparked the 48-hour firefight when it bombed the home of a top commander of Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas. Israel’s army had accused Baha Abu al-Ata of multiple recent attacks, calling him a “ticking bomb”.
That strike, which also killed Abu al-Ata’s wife, triggered almost immediate retaliatory rocket fire from Islamic Jihad at Israel, setting off air-raid sirens and sending Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.
Israel then responded with its own air strikes, saying it had targeted Islamic Jihad militant sites and rocket and missile-launching squads.
After two days of violence, Gaza medical officials put the death toll from the two days of fighting at 34 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians. One strike that flattened a house, killed eight members of a Palestinian family, including five children.
Israel said around 450 rockets had been fired at its territory, although air defences had intercepted dozens of them in the sky. There were no Israeli fatalities.
A ceasefire was agreed that was put in place on Thursday morning.
But the truce has so far been precarious, with sporadic rocket fire continuing to be fired from the enclave and Israel launching fresh air strikes on Gaza.