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Israel strikes Hamas positions in latest Gaza escalation despite fragile truce Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel strikes Hamas positions in latest Gaza escalation despite fragile truce

Recent Israeli aggression on Gaza has killed 34 Palestinians [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 November, 2019

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Hamas military positions in Gaza were struck by Israeli missiles on Saturday, just days after a fragile ceasefire began.

Israel targeted Hamas military positions in strikes on Gaza early on Saturday, reports confirmed, just two days into a fragile ceasefire that was launched after a deadly spike in violence.

The Israeli military said it hit Gaza's ruling Hamas movement, noting it launched the attack after "two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory”.

"Among the sites targeted was a military camp of the Hamas terror organisation and a military compound used by the Hamas naval forces," an army statement said.

"In addition an underground terror infrastructure was also targeted."

Palestinian security sources confirmed the Israeli strikes were aimed at two Hamas sites in the north of the blockaded territory.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that has de facto control over the Gaza Strip, had been spared the brunt of Israeli bombardment during this week's flare-up which focused on its hardline ally Islamic Jihad.

A ceasefire has been in place since Thursday morning following the wave of tit-of-tat airstrikes and rocket fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad - the territory's second most powerful militant group.

  

Saturday’s strikes marks the first time Hamas had been hit since this week's escalation began with Israel's targeted killing of a top Islamic Jihad commander early on Tuesday.

Read more: Why is Israel waging war on Islamic Jihad?

That strike triggered almost immediate retaliatory rocket fire from Islamic Jihad at Israel, setting off air-raid sirens and sending Israelis rushing to bomb shelters in the country's southern and central regions.

After two days of fighting which killed 34 Palestinians and no Israelis, a ceasefire was agreed.

But it has so far been precarious, with fire coming from both sides on Friday after the agreement went into effect.

Eight people from one family were killed and twelve injured in an Israeli strike on a house in the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Two children were among the casualties and their bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the destroyed home.

The airstrike massacre took place shortly before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic Jihad movement went into place in the Gaza Strip.

The official spokesman of Gaza's Health Ministry, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, tweeted that the airstrike on the Sawarka family's home had brought the death toll from a two-day Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip to 34.

Read more: Baha Abu al-Ata: Who was the secretive Islamic Jihad leader assassinated by Israel?

Israel admitted responsibility for the strike, which was carried out by an F-16 plane. Avichay Adraee, a spokesman for the Israeli army said that the strikes targeted a member of the Sawarka family who was a commander in the Islamic Jihad movement, though it made no mention of others killed in the attack.

There have been three wars since 2008 between Israel and Palestinian militants in the blockaded territory which is home to some two million people.

On Thursday, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters that the army had "wanted to keep Hamas out of the fighting".

"Throughout the operation, we of course distinguished between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and all of our operations were measured, proportionate and focused only on military assets belonging to Islamic jihad," he said.

Hamas had previously said it would not abandon its ally Islamic Jihad, but keeping out of the fighting helped it maintain a fragile truce with Israel that has seen tens of millions of dollars in Qatari aid flow into Gaza since last year.

Saturday’s strikes on Hamas positions could see the movement pulled in to the fresh spout of violence.

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