Palestine Tensions: Israel retaliates after Hamas rocket attacks

Palestine Tensions: Israel retaliates after Hamas rocket attacks

A ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militant groups appeared to be holding on Sunday, ending the most intensive flare-up in violence around the Palestinian enclave since a 2014 war.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it struck facilities used by the militant group, which dominates Gaza, including a battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, a training camp located in a high-rise building in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, weapons storage facilities and rocket launchers. "Hamas is responsible for the events transpiring in Gaza and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions", the IDF said.

Israel said it carried out the airstrike after Hamas fired dozens of rockets into Israel throughout the day, threatening to trigger an all-out war after weeks of growing tensions along the volatile border.

A ceasefire was agreed on Saturday, but several hours after the announcement, the Israeli military responded after Palestinians fired two mortar bombs towards Israel.

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed and three Israelis were wounded.

On the same day, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead as he reportedly attempted to climb the fence into Israel. "We have no intention to harm anyone who is not a terrorist", he said. Meanwhile, the military says an Israeli officer was lightly wounded by a grenade thrown at him during the near-weekly protests along the border Friday.

A senior Israeli defence official said: "Only the facts on the ground will dictate our further response".




The majority of those killed were involved in protests and clashes but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the weekly protests to distract from governance problems and provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks. It said paramedics in the southern city of Sderot were treating a 52-year-old man with a chest wound, a 17-year-old girl with a face wound and a 20-year-old woman with injuries to her limbs.

In a relatively rare admission, Hamas said it fired the rockets to deter Israel from further action.

In addition, the arson balloons and kites from Gaza have caused 750 fires and burned 2,600 hectares, leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to Israel's fire service.

The IDF has sought to avoid an escalation of hostilities on the southern front despite the attacks, but according to the Haaretz daily, the political pressure to act has been building as the economic and psychological harm caused by the fires takes its toll.

Israel's army said Saturday's strikes targeted military facilities belonging to Hamas.

Israel and Egypt said the blockade was a necessary security measure against militants.

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