Israel launches Gaza strikes as soldier dies from gunshot

Larry Hoffman
July 21, 2018

Israeli Defense Forces unleashed an air-barrage against targets in the Gaza Strip Friday evening; destroying multiple installations following a "serious shooting incident" against Israeli soldiers operating in the region.

A ceasefire announced by Hamas largely has largely held after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave of Gaza sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.

Israel's government initially saw the airborne tools of arson as a novel irritant and a less risky alternative to the rockets often fired by Hamas and other Islamist factions in Gaza.

Read the full report at the Times of Israel.

A fourth Palestinian was shot dead at protests by the perimeter fence, according to Gaza's health ministry.

A relative of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli troops east of Khan Younis reacts in the central Gaza Strip Friday.

In a brief statement early Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials and that calm had been restored.

The Israeli military responded with airstrikes and tank fire, saying it hit at least 15 military targets.

Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, blamed Hamas for escalating tensions over the past three and a half months, since the beginning of the Hamas-orchestrated mass protests along the border fence.

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.

Senior IDF and defense officials gathered at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv Friday evening for a second special situation assessment following the escalation in southern Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with military brass Friday night to assess the developments, media reported. The army said "a terrorist squad shot" him on the border with southern Gaza, without naming him.

Israel has said it wants to see Hamas stop launching flaming kites and balloons from Gaza as well as cease rocket and mortar fire and weekly violent protests at the border.

After the Palestinian gunfire, Israel's military said, it struck 25 Hamas positions, including weapon warehouses, command and control centers, training facilities, observation posts and other sites. "Rather than looking for opportunities to weaponize everything from kites to mirrors in order to attack Israel, Hamas should focus its ingenuity on improving the Gazan economy". Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats injuring 1 fisherman. Israel has tightened its blockade, closing the only goods crossing.

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