Israel launches airstrikes against alleged Hamas targets in Gaza

Published September 15th, 2016 - 09:26 GMT
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP/File)
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP/File)

Israeli forces carried out several airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip during predawn hours on Thursday after a rocket was launched from Gaza and exploded near the border with Israel.

According to locals, Israeli forces targeted agricultural lands northwest of Beit Lahiya in the northern region, reportedly striking a site used by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement. Israeli forces also shelled another site northwest of Beit Lahiya also allegedly used by Hamas, causing a fire to break out in the area.

Meanwhile, in Gaza city Israeli forces targeted a site allegedly used by the al-Qassam brigades in the eastern part of the city.

No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that Israeli forces carried out airstrikes on three "Hamas outposts" in the northern part of the coastal enclave in response to a rocket launched from Gaza Wednesday night, adding that the Israeli army held the Hamas movement responsible for all attacks from the Gaza Strip, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small Palestinian enclave.

According to The Times of Israel, the mortar shell exploded near the border with Israel. No injuries or property damage was reported.

The incident marked the second wave of Israeli shelling to strike the besieged Gaza Strip in the span of a month, while a few weeks earlier the Israeli army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun that left at least five Palestinians injured in late August, after a rocket fired from Gaza fell inside the southern Israeli city of Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed in a statement at the time that both the Israeli air force and artillery tanks targeted two alleged Hamas posts in northern Gaza, where they claimed the rocket was fired from.

On July 1, Israeli forces launched airstrikes at several sites allegedly used by Palestinian factions in the besieged coastal enclave in response to a rocket fired from Gaza which landed in Sderot.

In May, a Palestinian woman was killed during several consecutive days of sustained airstrikes and tank shelling from Israeli forces, allegedly in response to cross-border mortar shelling and a rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip.

The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

The crippling blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.


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