Netanyahu rushes back to Israel after burst of Gaza violence

Brenda Watkins
November 13, 2018

Israel and militants in Gaza traded rocket and mortar fire Monday, a flare-up of violence prompted by an Israeli military operation over the weekend that resulted in the deaths of seven Palestinians and one Israeli.

Meanwhile, the IDF sent additional interceptor missiles to the Iron Dome batteries stationed in southern Israel on Monday, in addition to deploying additional batteries and calling up reserve troops to operate them. Later, a man was killed when a rocket hit a building in southern Israel. A bus, which had reportedly been carrying troops, was hit by an anti-tank missile in a kibbutz, seriously wounding a male soldier. The dead were claimed as members by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Militants in Gaza responded by launching hundreds of homemade rockets into Israel. Its military said in a short statement: "During an IDF [Israel Defence Forces] Special Forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved".

"What is being done by the Palestinian resistance proves that it is prepared and ready to defend the Palestinians", Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Sunday.

The frontier had been quiet earlier in the day after a botched Israeli undercover operation in the Gaza Strip led to fighting that killed a Hamas commander, six other Palestinian militants and an Israeli colonel.

More than 220 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since March 30, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

"Imagine if Palestinians crossed into Israel and killed [seven] Israelis, all hell would break loose but Palestinians are expected to just accept this", Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote on Twitter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushing back to Israel on Monday following a sudden burst of fighting the previous night that left in doubt efforts to bring to an end months of relentless violence between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led the funeral prayers.

In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip.

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He was the first person to die in Israel from a rocket strike from Gaza since the 2014 war.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas takeover.

The combined rocket and mortar arsenal of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) exceeds 20,000 projectiles, and these factions are prepared on the ground to engage in persistent asymmetrical urban warfare if Israel enters the Strip with ground forces.

The Israeli military has given few details about its mission in the Gaza Strip but said it was "not meant to kill or abduct terrorists but to strengthen Israeli security".

The Israeli military said more than 100 military targets were hit, including "a unique vessel" belonging to Hamas in a harbour in southern Gaza.

The statement from Israeli military spokesman Ronen Manelis signaled that the mission did not go as planned and resulted in the clash, which Palestinian security sources said included Israeli airstrikes.

On Friday, Palestinian civil servants began receiving payments after months of sporadic salary disbursements in cash-strapped Gaza, with US$15 million delivered into the enclave through Israel in suitcases by Qatar.

Six other people were lightly wounded by shrapnel in various attacks, medical officials said.

More than 170 demonstrators, most unarmed, have been killed by Israeli army fire in the confrontations in which some of the participants threw stones, burned tires or threw grenades toward Israeli forces.

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