Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Israel strikes Hamas after new Gaza rocket fire

Several rockets were fired from the strip at Israel on Wednesday evening

Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip September 11, 2019. Reuters
Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip September 11, 2019. Reuters

Israeli aircraft carried out strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight after rockets were fired from the coastal enclave, a military statement said early on Thursday.

"Rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory," it said in English without giving details.

"In response...fighter jets and an Israel Defence Forces aircraft struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip," it added.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Israeli aircraft on Wednesday evening "fired at least one missile targeting an empty site in Al Shajaiyeh neighbourhood," east of Gaza City.

No injuries were reported on either side and no Palestinian faction claimed responsibility. Israel blames Hamas, the rulers of the enclave, for all fire that comes from the territory. But a smaller faction known as Islamic Jihad, backed by Iran, has been blamed for some of the rocket fire in recent months.

Iran and Israel have been involved in an escalation that has seen Israel strike into Syrian territory and as far away as Iraq in a bid to prevent Iranian arms transfers to its proxies across the Middle East, particularly Shiite militia Hezbollah, which is based out of Lebanon but also operates in Syria.

Wednesday's afternoon exchange came a day after rockets fired from the Palestinian territory towards the Israeli city of Ashdod forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to flee the stage during a campaign rally.

Video posted on WhatsApp by Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party showed him returning to the stage after the all-clear and saying that Hamas was scared of him winning next Tuesday's general election.

"If it attacks us on live TV, you understand that it doesn't want us here," he told his audience.

The right-wing premier is campaigning for re-election in September 17 parliamentary polls.

On Tuesday Mr Netanyahu announced his intention to annex a large part of the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Updated: September 12, 2019 11:08 AM

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