Violence flares as Israel strikes besieged Gaza Strip

Violence flares as Israel strikes besieged Gaza Strip following teenage fatality
2 min read
14 July, 2018
Israel's military says it struck two Hamas tunnels during overnight raids on the besieged Gazan enclave.
At least 139 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel since protests began [Getty]

Israel's army said it had launched air strikes targeting Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip early on Saturday, following Israeli violence on the Gaza border crossing that saw a Palestinian teenager shot dead and many injured, including an Israeli soldier.

The health ministry in the besieged enclave said that 220 Palestinians were injured in Friday's protests on the Gaza border in addition to 15-year-old Othman Rami Halles who was shot dead.

Israeli fighter jets struck two "Hamas terror tunnels" one in southern Gaza and one in the north as well as other infrastructure across the coastal territory, Israel's military said in statements posted on Twitter.

It said targets included "complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility".

According to witnesses in Gaza, there were no casualties from the air strikes, which damaged Hamas military infrastructure.

The Israeli army said the strikes were conducted "in response to the terror acts instigated during the violent riots that took place along the security fence" on Friday.

It also cited "continuous arson attacks damaging Israeli territory on a daily basis with the launching of arson balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory".  

During the strikes, the Israeli army says a total of 31 mortar rounds were fired at Israel from Gaza, adding that six were intercepted by its Iron Dome air defence system.

Israeli media reports said no one was injured in those attacks.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group was responsible for the mortar fire on Israel and that they were carried out "in response to the Israeli air strikes".

"The protection and the defence of our people is a national duty and a strategic choice," Barhoum said.

Palestinians in Gaza have been demonstrating against Israel's decade-long blockade of the territory and in support of their right to return to lands they fled or were driven from during the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.

Read more: Hamas, Israel in indirect talks to end Gaza crises: Qatari official

Since the protests began on March 30, they have been violently quashed by the Israeli army. More than 145 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority of those killed were non-violent protestors, as well as journalists, bystanders and a nurse, however a small number were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

No Israelis have been killed.

Israel says its use of live fire is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations, despite the fact that protestors throwing stones or molotov cocktails pose little threat to the heavily-defended border.