Israel strikes Gaza overnight, Hamas responds

A Palestinian youth look at destroyed vehicles outside a home following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on 20 June 2012. (Photo: AFP – Mahmud Hams)

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza entered their third day overnight, with raids across the enclave wounding at least three Palestinians, Ma’an news agency reported.
Israel launched a total of seven airstrikes on the Gaza Strip last night, hitting a blacksmith workshop in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City and a civilian vehicle, Ma’an reported citing witnesses.

Among the other sites hit were a training center used by fighters from the Hamas armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and several naval police outposts, Palestinian security sources said.

So far, six Palestinians have been killed and five wounded since the bloodshed erupted on Monday morning, but officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said there were no casualties in the overnight air strikes.

Israel claimed to have hit six “terror” targets, although Palestinians usually dispute this claim, highlighting that the targets are frequently civilian facilities.

“Overnight, IAF (Israel Air Force) aircraft targeted six terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip. Hits were confirmed,” a military statement said, later confirming a seventh strike.

Ma’an also reported Israeli tanks shelling across the eastern Gaza border in conjunction with the air raids without causing any casualties.

Hamas, in a rare show of force, claimed responsibility for the firing of rockets into Israel in retaliation to Israel’s unprovoked air raids on the Gaza Strip.

In total, 45 rockets hit Israel on Tuesday, all of which were claimed by the Hamas armed wing, including one that struck an Israeli border post in Yad Mordechai, just north of the Gaza Strip, wounding four border guards, one of them seriously, the Israeli army confirmed.

Hamas has previously refrained from engaging militarily with Israel, despite repeated Israeli assaults on Gaza, instead adhering to a truce that the Jewish state continues to violate.

As the violence rumbled on, a senior Gaza official told AFP that Egypt was in contact with Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in a bid to restore the calm.

“The Palestinian factions are ready to return to the calm as long as Israel stops its attacks,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Giora Eiland, Israel’s former national security adviser, said he believed that Hamas would “find a way to calm things down and return the quiet in the next two or three days after proving to the other factions that it is capable of acting against Israel.”

“Neither Hamas nor Israel has any interest in provoking an escalation in the short term,” he told public radio.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an, AFP)

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