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Israeli air strikes hit Gaza after rocket attack

The strikes targeted the besieged Gaza Strip [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2021

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Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters struck the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday.
The Israeli army early on Friday said it had carried out air strikes on military targets in the Gaza Strip after rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave hit southern Israel.

Fighter jets and attack helicopters struck a "weapons manufacturing site, a weapon smuggling tunnel and a military post" operated by Hamas, the armed Islamist ruling party in Gaza, the Israeli Defence Force said in a statement. 

"We will not tolerate any threat to Israeli civilians," it added.

Israelis in the southern city of Sderot took cover late Thursday after a rocket was fired from Gaza.

The rocket landed in an open area and caused no injuries or damage, according to a spokesman with the Shaar Hanegev local council.

This year, Israel marked a decade since it deployed the Iron Dome missile defence system that intercepted hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza and Syria. 

Last month, Israel unveiled a new version of its "Iron Dome" defence shield that it said is capable of intercepting drones, missiles and rockets simultaneously.

Over a decade of siege

In 2006, Israel imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the strip, effectively turning the coastal enclave into an open-air prison, where basic necessities such as food, fuel and medicines are severely restricted.

Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, which it has fought three wars since 2008, bringing devastation to the Gaza Strip.

Critics say the blockade, along with a periodic bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of the coastal enclave's 2 million residents.

In 2014, the UN - along with four other human rights organisations - said that the Gaza Strip could end up becoming 'uninhabitable' because of Israeli policies. The decade-long siege has plunged hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into poverty. 

Read more: Israel's blockade had already crippled Gaza, then came Covid-19

Nearly 70 percent of Gaza's population is food insecure and around 80 percent of Palestinians in the beseiged enclave are reliant on international aid, according to the United Nations.

Out of Gaza's 1.8 million population, 1.4 million are refugees whose ancestors were forced out of their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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