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Israel deals 'hardest blow' to Hamas since 2014 Gaza war

By BBC | Published Sun, July 15th 2018 at 10:34, Updated July 15th 2018 at 10:41 GMT +3
Palestinian witnesses say a building was struck in Gaza City - Israel says it hit militant training sites. [Courtesy]

Israel has carried out its biggest attack against Hamas militant targets in Gaza since the war in 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.

The raids were a response to rockets fired into Israel, he said. Hamas said a truce had been agreed, but there have been reports of further exchanges.

Palestinian health officials said two people were killed and 12 injured in an air strike in Gaza City on Saturday.

Three Israelis were hurt by one of more than 90 rockets fired on Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had struck facilities used by Hamas, which dominates Gaza, including a battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, a training camp located in a high-rise building in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, weapons storage facilities and rocket launchers.

"In consultation with the minister of defence, the chief of staff and the top security command of the state of Israel, we have decided on strong action against Hamas terrorism," Mr Netanyahu said in a video statement.

"The IDF have struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary," he added, referring to the 2014 conflict.

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However, Palestinian officials said a ceasefire had now been agreed thanks to "Egyptian and international efforts". Israel has not commented on the report.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency an Israeli strike had hit an empty building in Gaza City and that the casualties were passers-by.

Hamas said another Palestinian had died after being shot by Israeli troops during border protests on Friday.

The IDF said dozens of rockets had been fired on Israel from within Gaza.

More than 90 rockets are reported to have fallen in Israel. [Courtesy]

One rocket hit a home in the town of Sderot. Three people suffered shrapnel wounds.

The attacks come amid an escalation of violence in the region in recent months.

They coincided with mass demonstrations along the border which saw thousands of Palestinians express their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel - as well as demanding an end to the blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Israel and Egypt say the blockade is a necessary security measure against militants.

Gaza health officials say more than 130 Palestinians were killed and 15,000 others injured by Israeli forces during the protests.

Hamas does not recognise Israel's right to exist but last year said it was ready to accept an interim Palestinian state limited to Gaza and the West Bank.


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