Israeli forces retaliate against Gaza; fragile truce goes into effect

The Israeli military launched dozens of retaliatory strikes into the Gaza Strip after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli serviceman on Friday.

Responding to the death of an IDF soldier, Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes and deployed tanks to conduct attacks on what it said were military targets inside Gaza, killing four Palestinians.  Three of the Palestinian dead were affiliated with militant group Hamas.

Over 120 Gazans were injured in the attacks.

Israeli military officials described the raids as a “wide-scale attack against Hamas,” targeting military command and control centers in Gaza City and in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.

Hamas fired both mortars and rockets on Israel until late Friday evening.

As darkness fell Friday, the attacks subsided and gave way to an Egyptian-U.N. brokered ceasefire, which was observed by both sides early Saturday morning.

The culmination of weeks of hostilities, the recent flareup of hostilities comes after Palestinians staged months of protests along the Gaza border fence known as The Great March of Return.

In recent weeks, Palestinian protesters engaged in the tactic of launching incendiary balloons from Gaza.  Israeli officials have stated the helium-filled balloons and burning kites have started fires and ravaged thousands of acres of farmland.

Despite calls from Israel to end the balloon attacks, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya, has stated resistance and marches will continue and will employ all “tools” required to achieve Hamas’ goals.

“We are trying to be balanced and responsible but Hamas’s leaders are forcing us into a situation in which we will have no choice but to embark on a broad and painful military operation.  Responsibility will fall entirely on Hamas’s shoulders, but I’m sorry to say that ordinary Gazans will have to pay the price,” said Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Following Friday’s attacks, Israel reportedly launched airstrikes on a Syrian Army military site outside of Hama Sunday in west-central Syria, causing no casualties

 

[The Telegraph] [Euronews] [SANA] [Photo courtesy AFP via BBC]