Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed

Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed

It was the third major escalation since July and came despite attempts by United Nations officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

"This is a blatant crime and Israel is responsible for it", he said.

Israel issued a stern message to Hamas against further violence as a shaky calm appeared to descend upon the Gaza border late Thursday night. Local health officials said 18 bystanders were wounded by the blast.

Hours earlier, after the long-range Palestinian missile attack - the first of its kind since a 2014 war, Israeli air strikes had resumed after a short lull, flattening a multi-storey building that the Israeli military described as a Hamas headquarters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening a meeting of his security Cabinet.

Thursday's fighting, however, brought back memories of the most recent war, in 2014.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intentionally targeted civilians "with the goal of causing the residents to understand the price of escalation and placing Hamas in a problematic situation".

"The strike was carried out in response to the rockets fired by Hamas at Israel, one of which was sacked at the city of Be'er Sheva, which is more than 24 miles from Gaza", the IDF Spokesperson added. "The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development", he said.

A plume of smoke rises from the remains of a building west of Gaza City that was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day on August 9, 2018.

There was no formal comment from Israel, but an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity denied a cease-fire had been reached.

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The Israeli occupation forces also reported they had destroyed a five-story building used by Hamas' security forces, but residents claim it housed the Said Mashal cultural center. Those have hit a stumbling block as Hamas is insisting that the release include all prisoners who were part of a 2011 prisoner exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit but have since been rearrested, according to Palestinian officials, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks. The ministry said the militant and the civilians were killed in separate incidents. "The rocket hit their house and smashed it, you can see the damage", said Abdullah Khammash, 31, a cousin of the woman and child killed.

The military said 30 of the some 180 rockets and mortars fired at Israel were intercepted by air defence systems.

The UN and Egypt want to broker a complex deal that would end Hamas rule of Gaza and restore Palestinian Authority of Gaza, lift Israeli restrictions on the crossings and provide an economic package for Gaza.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. Mideast envoy, said he was "deeply alarmed" and appealed for calm.

He added that "if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

Israel has struck more than 150 Hamas targets since late Wednesday after the Islamist group and its allies fired some 180 rockets and mortars at the Jewish state. The protests have been aimed in part at trying to break the blockade.

The incident occurred while a group of senior Hamas leaders from overseas were visiting Gaza to discuss the ceases-fire efforts with local leaders.

Israeli aircraft bombed a multi-story building in Gaza City on August 9, local residents said, a few hours after Palestinian militants fired a long-range rocket at Israel's largest southern city. This comes less than 24 hours after Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinians on Wednesday night.

The army's rhetoric has been echoed by Israeli politicians and government bodies over the course of Thursday, with the Foreign Ministry saying that Israel was "defending itself from from Hamas' aggression". But it has come under heavy worldwide criticism for its frequent use of force against unarmed protesters.

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