Jets strike Gaza, rockets rain on Israel after botched army operation





Gaza City - By Saud Abu Ramadan and Sara Lemel, - Israel sent fighter jets into the Gaza Strip on Monday, responding to a barrage of rockets fired by Palestinian militants, in an escalation of violence following a deadly military operation the night before.

One Israeli man, who is a soldier, was seriously injured when a bus in southern Israel was hit by an anti-tank grenade, officials said.



 
Palestinians fired more than 200 rockets and mortar grenades into the region, according to the Israeli army, prompting jets to begin striking "terror targets" throughout the Gaza Strip.
At least three Palestinians were killed and nine people injured in the retaliatory strikes, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
A 23-year-old man was killed in an attack in Rafah, in southern Gaza, while two other men, ages 22 and 27, were killed in northern Gaza. The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed the two men killed in northern Gaza as its members.
The Israeli army said that it had struck more than 70 targets of the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the coastal enclave, in response to the rockets.
The army also said the Iron Dome missile defence system had intercepted about 60 rockets fired.
Rocket sirens continued to warn residents in cities, including Sderot and Ofakim, to stay close to open shelters. The army also said there were initial reports of sirens sounding near the Dead Sea.
The clashes come after at least seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, and one Israeli officer were killed in Gaza.
The army said that the lieutenant colonel was killed overnight Monday during "operational activity."
According to a spokesman from Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, an Israeli special forces unit in a civilian vehicle had driven 3 kilometres into Gaza with the mission of capturing the commander.
Militant Palestinians, however, discovered the special unit in their vehicle near Khan Younis, where the Israelis killed the commander.
His killing was followed by a fierce exchange of fire. Israeli warplanes struck the Khan Younis area so the soldiers could retreat.
The Gaza commander had been responsible for digging tunnels, as well as conducting rocket attacks on Israel and attacks on Israeli soldiers, according to Palestinian sources.
The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza said that, in addition to the deaths, seven Palestinians were injured in the fight. According to the Israeli army, another officer was moderately injured.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Paris with other world leaders to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, cut short his visit to return to Israel "in light of the security situation in the south," his office said in a statement.
The Israeli army denied reports that its soldiers had been abducted during the operation.
More than 220 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since March 30, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Palestinians have been staging demonstrations, which often include stone-throwing and lighting tyres. The protests are aimed at pressuring Israel into lifting a decade-long blockade on Gaza.
Gaza, home to around 2 million people, is suffering from a severe lack of electricity and clean drinking water. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
Egypt has for months tried to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. According to media reports, Israel on Thursday had allowed emissaries from Qatar to bring up to 15 million dollars in cash to Gaza. The money was meant to help Hamas pay outstanding wages to its employees in Gaza, among other things.

 


Monday, November 12th 2018
By Saud Abu Ramadan and Sara Lemel,
           


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