Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Israel Retaliates, Ferociously, After IDF Soldier Killed by Hamas Sniper

Israel Retaliates, Ferociously, After IDF Soldier Killed by Hamas Sniper

Yesterday's flare-up is the latest as demonstrations and clashes on the frontier since March have seen at least 149 Palestinians killed.

Israel did not confirm the deal announced by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, which went into effect around midnight Friday.

Since the protests began, Israeli forces have killed more than 140 Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave and wounded more than 16,000 people, according to health officials in Gaza. "Right NOW! Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed".

An intense barrage of air strikes by Israeli fighter pilots followed in response, with IDF aircraft bombing Hamas terror targets Friday evening in response to the sniper fire and other attacks by the guerrilla group against the IDF.

Israeli media reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received an emergency briefing from the army on the violence.

But the Hamas source claimed incendiary balloons and kites, which Palestinians have been floating over the border for months to spark fires inside Israel, were not included in the agreement.

"The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas's training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure", the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes "will intensify as necessary".

The Israeli soldier, shot by Palestinian gunmen, was the first to be killed on the Gaza front in active duty since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Later Friday night, rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel, and the military said it had detected at least three launches from Gaza, with two intercepted.

Egyptian security officials and a diplomat from another unnamed state held contacts with Hamas and Israel in an effort to restore calm and prevent further deterioration, a Palestinian official told Reuters.

For nearly four months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been holding nearly daily demonstrations called "The Great March of Return" near the Gaza-Israel border.

Israel has been accused of using excessive force against Palestinian protesters, an allegation its leaders have denied.

Khalil al-Hayya, a top Hamas leader, said "the protests will remain, flaming and existing, and its tools will multiply and diversify, including kites, until our goals are achieved".

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched. The blockade has caused widespread economic hardship.

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