Published: Tue, November 13, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Gaza border sees heaviest fighting since 2014 war

Gaza border sees heaviest fighting since 2014 war

Israeli jets have pounded Gaza Strip killing at least five Palestinians a day after a deadly covert Israeli operation in the besieged enclave drew rocket fire from Hamas-controlled territory. Its Iron Dome rocket defence system intercepted some of the rockets, but a few slipped through.

Homes in the southern cities of Sderot, Netivot and Ashkelon were hit by rockets. A bus, which had reportedly been carrying troops, was hit by an anti-tank missile in a kibbutz, seriously wounding a male soldier.

He added that the missiles' ability to overwhelm Israel's missile defences and hit houses will be "a awful blow" to Israel, adding that this was "the most serious escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014 and in terms of the number of Israelis injured by missiles". The dead were claimed as members by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

An Israeli soldier walks by a house damaged by a missile fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel responded with airstrikes. More than 230 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces.

However, the current level of escalation and angry rhetoric, including Hamas' warnings to strike deeper inside Israel, might make it more hard to restore calm. An Israeli lieutenant colonel and several Hamas fighters were among those killed.

The latest violence has cast a cloud over indirect talks between the sides after months of bloodshed along the Israel-Gaza border. The burials of several of those killed were led by Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.

Violence has flared regularly along the Israel-Gaza border since Palestinians began protests on March 30 to demand rights to land lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its creation.

Hamas said on Tuesday that it was holding urgent meetings with several Arab, Islamic and Western countries, as well as various global parties, to "end the Zionist aggression" against the Gaza Strip.

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Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza from the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007.

In southern Israel, interceptor missiles streaked through the sky and sirens sounded during what the military said were more than 200 rocket and mortar launches from Gaza. "Residents of Gaza look carefully at the pictures from Operation Protective Edge in 2014 - a picture is worth a thousand words", said the account, citing a statement by COGAT chief, Major General Kamil Abu Rukon.

Hamas, the Muslim movement that runs the blockaded enclave, and the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades spoke of a "cowardly Israeli attack" and an "assassination", vowing revenge.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to Paris on Sunday night when news broke that the operation had gone awry.

Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped Hamas to pay the salaries of thousands of government workers.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared a screenshot of the alerts, accusing Hamas of "directly & intentionally" targeting civilians. A 19-year-old man was severely wounded after a mortar shellhit a bus, whose driver had a panic attack and was also taken to the hospital, according to the Times of Israel.

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 hurled grenades toward Israeli forces.

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