Iron Dome Intercepts Rocket Fired From Gaza Amid Israeli Strikes

Frederick Owens
July 15, 2018

"Egyptian and global efforts succeeded in ending the current round of escalation", a Palestinian official told Reuters.

Still, it was unclear whether the truce would hold as warning sirens were heard in southern Israel early Sunday, indicating incoming fire, AP said.

The surge in violence followed mounting public criticism of Netanyahu over failure to counter a new Palestinian tactic: incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza that have burned crops and scrubland in southern Israel.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed during the Israel-Gaza frontier protests which have entered their fourth month and have drawn a lethal Israeli army response.

"The Israeli army delivered its most painful strike against Hamas since the 2014 war and we will increase the strength of our attacks as much as necessary", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over the fence into Israel was shot dead, media reports in Gaza said.

Israel's targets included a battalion headquarters and a training facility used by Hamas, its military said.

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It was one of the most serious flare-ups of fighting since the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, but Israel's chief military spokesman, Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis, said it was premature to say whether it heralded the start of a broader campaign against militants in the enclave, run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

"We are talking about the biggest offensive strikes since Protective Edge", Air Force Brigadier General Tzvika Haimovic told journalists, referring to Israel's name for its 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip.

Three Israelis were reportedly injured when one of the rockets landed on a residential home.

In retaliation, Israel on Monday announced the closure of Gaza's main commercial border terminal, reduced the area Palestinian fishing boats are allowed to operate off Gaza's Mediterranean coast and blacklisted what it described as a pro-Hamas TV channel. The IDF deems the Hamas terrorist group, which rules the Strip, responsible for all attacks from its territory, though Islamic Jihad is also believed to be involved.

The conflagration came after Israeli troops killed two protesters and wounded hundreds of others on Friday in clashes at the border, where often-violent protests have continued since March.

Sirens wailed overnight and throughout most of the day Saturday in southern Israel as waves of rockets and mortars were launched from Gaza amid the airstrikes.

Local residents were warned in advance of the IDF air strike, according to the IDF Spokesperson. Organizers say the demonstrations aim to press demands for a right to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation, and for the blockade to ease.

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