Saturday, April 20, 2024

Israel bombs Gaza following West Bank killings

Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip one day after its raid on the West Bank city of Nablus that killed at least 11 Palestinians and injured dozens more.

The attacks early on Thursday sent plumes of black smoke rising over one of the targeted locations north of Gaza city.

Hours earlier, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip lit up the night sky and triggered sirens in the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Palestinian witnesses said they saw at least eight rockets fired, while the Israeli military put the number of projectiles at six.

The Israeli military said its air defence system intercepted five of the rockets, while the sixth fell in an uninhabited area.

No Palestinian group has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire.

The rocket launches came after the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad group condemned the Israeli military’s raid in Nablus on Wednesday as a “major crime” that the “resistance must respond to”. Hamas, which governs the coastal enclave, had also issued a warning, with spokesman Abu Obeida saying “the resistance in Gaza is observing the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people in the occupied West Bank”. He added that their “patience is running out”.

The Nablus raid was one of the deadliest Israeli operations in the occupied West Bank since the second Intifada or the Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005. The death toll on Wednesday surpassed that of an Israeli attack last month in the city of Jenin, further north.

Among the dead in Nablus were three Palestinian men, ages 72, 66 and 61, and a 16-year-old boy, according to health officials.

At least 100 others were wounded. Some 82 of them were hit by live ammunition, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel stepped up its military raids, arrests and killings in Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank from June 2021, following a popular Palestinian uprising known as the “May outburst” that swept Israel and the Palestinian territories it has illegally occupied since 1967. Palestinian civilians confronting the Israeli military during raids and uninvolved bystanders have been killed, as well as fighters in targeted assassinations and during armed clashes.

Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, according to the United Nations, with the Israeli army killing 171 Palestinians in a military campaign launched following a series of individual Palestinian attacks inside Israel.

The victims included 30 children.

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