Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Israeli jets bombard Gaza after rockets fired from Palestinian enclave

One person killed in Israeli strikes targeting Hamas and other groups

Israel's Iron Dome system intercepts rockets fired from Gaza on November 1, 2019. Reuters
Israel's Iron Dome system intercepts rockets fired from Gaza on November 1, 2019. Reuters

One Palestinian was killed as Israeli jets bombarded the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rockets fired towards Israel on Friday night.

The Israeli military said it struck targets linked to the Palestinian territory's ruling Hamas group, including weapon manufacturing and storage sites, naval force and training compounds and "underground infrastructure".

A security source in Gaza told Agence France-Presse that bases of groups allied to Hamas were also targeted in dozens of strikes in the early hours on Saturday.

The health ministry in Gaza identified the person killed as as Ahmed Al Shehri, 27. Health officials said two other men were wounded in the same strike on a military training camp but it was not immediately clear whether they were militants or civilians.

A Hamas source said the group fired at Israeli aircraft carrying out the raids and the Israeli army confirmed fresh "incoming fire" from Gaza.

The Israeli strikes were a response to at least 10 rockets fired at southern Israel from Gaza late on Friday. The Israeli army said Iron Dome anti-missile defence system intercepted eight of the rockets, which were fired in two salvos. Police said one rocket hit a house in the town of Sderot near the border, causing damage but not casualties.

It was the second consecutive evening that the army reported rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. Prior to Thursday, there had been no such reported rocket fire from Gaza since September 12.

Friday's rocket launches came after scores of Palestinians were wounded by live fire during protests along Gaza-Israel border fence earlier in the day.

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces along the border east of Bureij in central Gaza on November 1, 2019. AFP 
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces along the border east of Bureij in central Gaza on November 1, 2019. AFP 

The border protests have been held weekly to demand an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza imposed in 2007 and to demand the right of return for Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948. More than 180 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began in March last year, and thousands

International mediators, including Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, oversee a ceasefire deal under which Hamas agreed to prevent rocket attacks and lower the intensity of the border protests in exchange for humanitarian projects in the enclave. Hamas accuses Israel of not honouring the agreement by slowing the implementation of the deal.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said its F-35 stealth fighters will take part in multinational manoeuvres being held in the south of the country from Sunday.

The United States, Germany, Italy and Greece will also participate in the "Blue Flag" excercise that will run until November 14, the military said in a statement.

It will be the first international 'Fifth Generation' exercise held in Israel involving the F-35, it said, referring to the most advanced fighter planes, typically employing stealth technology, advanced avionics and highly-integrated computer systems.

"This deployment will provide an opportunity for joint flights over a wide range of threat scenarios combined with advanced technology," it said, adding that the exercise would include over 1,000 personnel from different air forces.

The manoeuvres are being held at a time of high tensions between Israel and arch-foe Iran, with Israel regularly striking what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in July that Israel's fighters "can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran".

He spoke on a visit to an air force base where he inspected F-35s and appeared in a video with one of the planes behind him.

Israel took delivery of its first two F-35s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, in December 2016 and has since received several more. It has agreed to buy a total of 50.

Updated: November 2, 2019 05:51 PM

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