Tensions soar as Israel hits Gaza militant bases after mortar fire

Arturo Kim
June 2, 2018

The list of targets included alleged facilities manufacturing rocket launchers, rocket engines and advanced naval weapons, the IDF said. Although most of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, one hit a kindergarten yard in a kibbutz near the Gaza border and at least another damaged a house, he said. Local hospitals also reported several light injuries, mainly caused by shrapnel, and one Israeli soldier was in moderate condition.

Palestinian militants continued to fire additional barrages toward southern Israel, setting off air raid sirens in the area throughout the night.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab, acknowledging a ceasefire was in effect, said its success would depend on "whether Israel will refrain from any military escalation against Gaza".

Violence has soared along the Gaza frontier in recent weeks, during which 116 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire at mass demonstrations calling for Palestinians' right to return to ancestral lands now in Israel.

Islamic Jihad was believed to be behind the mortar fire, which appeared to be retaliation for the deaths of three of its fighters in an Israeli airstrike earlier this week.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities.

France and Britain have criticised the draft resolution for a lack of specific details, diplomats said, adding the USA viewed it as biased against Israel.

The latest cross-border violence is some of the heaviest since a 50-day war between Israel and militants in Gaza in 2014.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the coastal enclave, as it has ruled Gaza since 2007.

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Israeli fire has killed more than 110 Palestinians, a lot of them during the Hamas-led protests, which climaxed on May 14.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Security Council "should be outraged and respond".

Early Tuesday, Islamic Jihad retaliated by firing a barrage of mortar fire into southern Israel near the Gaza border.

The incident follows Israeli massacres of Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border on March 30.

Militants in Gaza did not fire long-range rockets at Israel's major cities, as they did in 2014, and Israeli airstrikes zeroed in on only unmanned military targets.

It was not immediately clear if Islamic Jihad, a much smaller, Iran-backed militant group, acted independently Tuesday or at least had the tacit blessing of Hamas.

Israeli forces later stopped and seized the main protest boat as it approached the blockade limit at nine nautical miles, while others were said to have turned back.

More than 110 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire.

Hamas forcibly wrested control of Gaza from the rival Fatah party in 2007 after winning legislative elections, triggering an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza's inhabitants.

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