SAT 18 - 8 - 2018
Jun 4, 2018
The Daily Star
Gaza mourns death of medic while Israel strikes
GAZA CITY, Palestine: Israeli aircraft pounded over a dozen militant targets in Gaza, the army said Sunday, after Palestinian projectile fire shattered a cease-fire reached just days ago after the worst flare-up since a 2014 war.
The latest escalation came hours after thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of a young female volunteer medic killed by Israeli fire on Gaza’s border.
In a first wave of airstrikes, Israeli “fighter jets targeted 10 terror sites in three military compounds belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement early Sunday.
“Among the targets were two Hamas munition manufacturing and storage sites and a military compound,” the army said.
The strikes came in retaliation for rockets fired at Israel, as well as “various terror activities approved and orchestrated by Hamas over the weekend,” the army said.
A few hours later aircraft shot at “five terror targets at a military compound belonging to the Hamas terror organization’s naval force in the northern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a separate statement.
There were no reports of casualties in Gaza.
Militants in the Palestinian enclave fired two projectiles Saturday evening,at southern Israel, where air raid sirens sent residents to bomb shelters.
The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted one projectile, while the other was believed to have fallen short of its target and landed within Gaza, according to the army.
Early Sunday, four more projectiles were separately launched at Israel. Three were intercepted, the army said, with the fourth apparently hitting an open field.
No group in Gaza claimed responsibility for the projectile attacks, which came shortly after the Saturday funeral of Razan al-Najjar, 21, a volunteer with the Gaza health ministry, who was fatally shot in the chest near Khan Younes Friday.
Ambulances and medical crews attended the funeral, where Najjar’s father held the white blood-stained medics’ jacket she wore when she was shot, as mourners called for revenge.
U.N. officials condemned the killing of Najjar, saying that witness reports indicated she wore clothing that clearly identified her as a health worker.
Gazans have since March 30 staged border protests demanding the return of Palestinians to land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, now inside the Jewish state.
The demonstrations have been accompanied by smaller clashes as youths hurl stones at Israeli soldiers and attempt to breach the border fence, at times laying out explosive devices on the fence or throwing grenades.
The demonstrations and violence peaked on May 14 when at least 62 Palestinians were killed in clashes as tens of thousands of Gazans protested the U.S. transfer of its embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem the same day.
On Sunday, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra announced the death of Mohammad Hamada, 30, who was wounded on May 14. His death brings the toll of Gazans killed by Israeli fire since the end of March to 124.
Low-level demonstrations have continued since.
Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave have also used kites carrying burning cans to set ablaze Israeli fields, torching large patches of farmland near Gaza.
Following the funeral, several Gazans were wounded in clashes east of Khan Younes, the health ministry said.
The weekend launches were the first since Israel said it had struck some 65 militant sites in Gaza earlier this week in retaliation for a barrage of approximately 100 rockets and missiles fired from the territory Tuesday and Wednesday.
Palestinian Islamist groups in Gaza, including the strip’s rulers Hamas, said a cease-fire deal was reached after the escalation, although there was no confirmation from Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday accused Iran of “encouraging” Hamas and other militant Gaza groups of the violence.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said his upcoming talks with key European leaders would focus “on continuing to block Iran’s nuclear program,” and “blocking Iran’s plans for expansion and aggression throughout the Middle East, especially in Syria.”
Netanyahu will head to Europe Monday for meetings in Berlin, Paris and London.
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