Israel targets Hamas sites in assault on besieged Gaza
Israeli warplanes on Wednesday morning hit several partsof Gaza, according to Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.
Israeli F-16 warplanes fired five rockets toward a site in southwest Gaza city, completely destroying it, while causing damage to nearby property.
Israel also targeted another site in the city of Deir Al-Balah with two missiles, also leaving it completely destroyed and damaging nearby buildings.
Israeli military sources said the strikes were carried out in retaliation at a rocket firing from the besieged enclave towards southern Israel Tuesday night.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, Palestinian fishermen were sailing within three nautical miles of the enclave when Israeli naval boats opened fire, forcing them to flee for safety with no reports of injuries.
Israel often targets fishing vessels off Gaza, where it has imposed a suffocating blockade since 2007. It has also prevented fishermen from carrying out their work with live fire and water cannons and by tearing fishing nets and damaging engines.
A number of fishermen have been killed or injured as a result.
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.
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.