Gaza border protests called off after Israel air raids: Organisers

Gaza border protests called off after Israel air raids: Organisers

Israel says Hamas fired the rockets, though Hamas and a smaller militant group, Islamic Jihad, both denied involvement.

The army said early Friday that targets included an office complex in Gaza City, an underground complex that served as Hamas' main rocket-manufacturing site, and a center used for a Hamas drone program.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the claims.

Four Palestinians were wounded in the Gaza strikes, the enclave's health ministry said, while no Israelis were reported injured. Witnesses said the powerful explosions from the air strikes rocked buildings in Gaza and lit up the skies over the targeted sites.

Rocket fire toward Israel's southern communities near the Gaza Strip is common, but Tel Aviv is rarely targeted. There have been no reports of casualties or damage as of yet. Netanyahu is locked in a tight fight for re-election and could face heavy criticism from his opponents if he is seen as ineffective against the militants.

The two rockets had struck late Thursday, taking Israel's military by surprise.

In a statement sent to journalists, a Qassam Brigades spokesman drew attention to the fact that the launches had taken place during a visit to Gaza by a security delegation from Egypt, which has been leading mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas. There have been several smaller rounds of fighting since, reined in by Egyptian and United Nations mediation.

On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution, opposed by Washington, condemning Israel for the violence.

Gaza border protests called off after Israel air raids: Organisers
Gaza border protests called off after Israel air raids: Organisers

There have been no reports of fatalities, and it remains unclear who carried out the launches.

Israeli media on Friday quoted defence officials as saying a preliminary investigation indicated the rockets were fired by mistake.

Hamas added that the rockets had been launched during a meeting with Egyptian mediators attempting to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.

Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, two smaller Gaza armed factions, also denied responsibility.

"We call on our people to commemorate Earth Day and to provide the biggest support for the Return March demonstrations", said the National Commission for the Great March of Return in a statement on Friday, referring to the environmental event also held on 30 March. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. "This method will never work".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conferred with senior army officials to discuss a response.

"The time has come to defeat Hamas once and for all", he said on Thursday night.

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