Israel: Gaza Strikes Complete 11/15 06:55
IGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel said early Friday it has completed a
series of airstrikes on targets linked to the Islamic Jihad militant group in
Gaza after overnight rocket fire that rattled a day-old truce.
The Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, who kept to the sidelines of this
week's fighting, cancelled the weekly protests they organize along the
perimeter fence without explanation -- apparently in an effort to preserve the
Israel reiterated that it was willing to abide by the cease-fire if there
are no additional rocket attacks. The army said in a statement that it struck a
military compound, a rocket-manufacturing site and a militant headquarters in
the town of Khan Younis overnight.
The airstrikes came after a barrage of rockets late Thursday. There were no
immediate reports of casualties on either side. The situation was calm on
The unofficial cease-fire that began early Thursday ended a two-day
escalation triggered by Israel's targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad
commander. The fighting killed 34 Palestinians, including 16 civilians.
Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets toward Israel, paralyzing
much of southern Israel without causing any deaths or serious injuries.
An Israeli airstrike overnight Thursday struck a home in the central Gaza
town of Deir al-Balah, killing eight people, including two women and five
children under the age of 13. The airstrike apparently targeted the home of an
Islamic Jihad commander who was not there at the time. Neighbors said the
airstrike killed his brother, who was not involved in militant activity.
The military said Friday that it struck "Islamic Jihad military
infrastructure" in Deir al-Balah and did not intend to harm civilians.
"According to the information available to the IDF at the time of the
strike, no civilians were expected to be harmed as a result of the strike," the
Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement. It said an investigation is
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been killed in previous rounds
fighting in Gaza, drawing heavy international criticism, and the International
Criminal Court in The Hague has opened a preliminary investigation into
Israel's battlefield tactics.
Israel rejects the criticism, saying it takes numerous precautions to
prevent unnecessary civilian casualties. It also accuses Palestinian militants
of using civilians as human shields and firing rockets from residential areas.
It says militant commanders often have weapons or command centers inside their
homes, making them legitimate targets.
Islamic Jihad announced the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire early Thursday,
claiming it had extracted several concessions from Israel. Israel does not
generally comment on informal understandings with militant groups and said only
that it would halt fire as long as the militants did the same.
The truce angered many Islamic Jihad supporters, who held protests across
Gaza. The barrage of rockets fired into Israel late Thursday, which Israel said
were intercepted by its missile defenses, may have been an expression of
discontent with the militant group's leadership.
Unlike in previous rounds of violence, the more powerful Hamas stayed on the
sidelines, adhering to understandings reached through Egyptian mediators after
previous rounds of fighting with Israel. Both militant groups are committed to
Israel's destruction, but Islamic Jihad is seen as more radical and has closer
ties to Iran.
Hamas has held weekly demonstrations along the frontier for more than a year
to call for the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza when
the group seized power from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in
The protests often turn violent, with demonstrators hurling rocks and
firebombs and Israeli forces responding with tear gas and live ammunition.
Hamas has tamped down the protests in recent weeks, apparently as part of the
understandings with Egypt.
In return, Israel has loosened the blockade and allowed Qatar to deliver
millions of dollars in cash so that Hamas can pay its civil servants.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars, the most recent in 2014, and have
exchanged fire on a number of occasions since then. In the latest fighting,
Israel refrained from targeting Hamas, which does not appear to have fired any
rockets, a sign that both want to maintain the calm.