Israel launches waves of strikes across Gaza after soldier killed

21 July, 2018, 17:58 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Smoke rises from an Israeli strike in the east of Gaza City

Friday's violence comes after almost four months of protests by Palestinians along the fence with Israel. The Israeli military declined to comment on the ceasefire but a military spokeswoman said civilians could resume normal activities.

Earlier, Hamas defied Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's calls to stop launching incendiary balloons from the coastal enclave and he threatened to order a military offensive to prevent them.

Earlier this week, the Israeli army released details of a new tank designed more for use in guerrilla warfare conditions, a code for urban battles.

The Hebrew-language official Israeli TV reported that "it would be different if Hamas responds with shells or rockets".

"There has been no calm in Gaza for many, many decades", she said. An Israeli Cabinet members said Hamas has failed to listen to Israeli warnings against violence at the Gaza border.

TEL AVIV-Israel's military said late Friday it has launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas after one of its soldiers was killed by fire from the Gaza Strip, an escalation that raises concerns of a wider conflict.

The Israeli military destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets on Friday, including three battalion headquarters.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum tweeted overnight: "With Egyptian and United Nations efforts, [an agreement] was reached to return to the previous situation of ceasefire between the occupation and Palestinian factions". This came after Israeli airstrikes and tank fire killed four Palestinians and injured 120 others in the enclave.

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In response to Israel's "massive" wave of airstrikes, activists began circulating the #StoptheWar hashtag in an effort to pressure the worldwide community to step in and stop Israel's efforts to launch yet another catastrophic assault on the "occupied, blockaded, unlivable, and exhausted Gaza Strip".

The ceasefire is the third between Israel and Hamas to be brokered by Egypt this year and the second truce to be agreed this week after a day-long fighting last Saturday.

Protesters demand the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Israeli politicians have been calling for a fierce response to the kites and balloons, which have caused damage amounting to millions of shekels (hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks, something Hamas denies. Spokesperson of the Israeli army said Israeli forces continue working against a "group of targets" in the Gaza Strip; he held the Hamas movement entirely responsible for the consequences of its actions.

But more recently, some Gaza officials said the protests would end if Israel lifted an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas's deputy chief in Gaza, said the kites would continue to fly.

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