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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Ahmad Hasaballah

Israel vows 'massive strikes' on Gaza as violence continues to escalate

Tánaiste Simon Coveney called for an end to the ‘indiscriminate attacks’.

LAST UPDATE | May 5th 2019, 3:15 PM

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu said he has ordered the military to launch further strikes on Gaza militants in response to rocket fire from the territory, as an escalation entered its second day.

“I instructed [the military] this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip and ordered [it] to reinforce the troops around the Gaza Strip with tanks, artillery and infantry forces,” he said. 

Militants in Gaza fired a new barrage of rockets at Israel today in a deadly escalation that has already seen a number of people killed and others injured. 

Gazan authorities reported six Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes – including a one-year-old baby – in the latest round of conflict between the regions.  

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have reported a 58-year-old Israeli man was killed overnight by a rocket strike, and another 80-year-old woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat.

It claims 450 rockets and mortars had been fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad since Saturday and its air defences intercepted more than 150 of them. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he condems the attacks which led to civilian deaths and injuries. 

“I unequivocally condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza over the last two days, which has led to civilian deaths and injuries,” the Tánaiste said. 

“These actions undermine the cause of the Palestinian people. The unjust treatment of Gaza and the suffering of people there will never be solved by violence or terrorist attacks.

“I call for an end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and for restraint in terms of the Israeli response, which has already led to several deaths in Gaza. 

“The international community needs to work with all sides to de-escalate tension, as a matter of urgency,” he added. 

The Israeli army said its tanks and planes hit some 220 militant targets in Gaza in response.

They included an Islamic Jihad attack tunnel that stretched from southern Gaza into Israeli territory, it said.

Two multi-storey buildings in Gaza City were also destroyed.

Israel said one of the buildings included Hamas military intelligence and security offices where Turkey said its state news agency Anadolu was located, and strongly denounced the strike.

Israel said the other building housed Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices.

Shots fired

The conflict – which had been quelled by a fragile truce by both sides – was sparked when four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a shooting during weekly protests on the border. 

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the United Nations had led to relative calm around Israel’s April 9 general election.

But on Tuesday, Israel reduced the offshore fishing limit it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza after a rocket was fired from the territory.

Israel’s army blamed Islamic Jihad for the rocket, which fell into the Mediterranean.

On Thursday, Israel said its aircraft struck a Hamas military compound after balloons carrying firebombs and explosives were launched across the border.

Palestinians in Gaza have frequently fitted balloons with firebombs in a bid to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.

Following that air strike, Israel said two rockets were launched from Gaza.

With the ceasefire at risk, a Hamas delegation led by its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials.

The ceasefire has seen Israel allow Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza to pay salaries and to finance fuel purchases to ease a severe electricity shortage.

 With reporting from - © – AFP 2019

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