After the fatal deployment of an Israeli special unit in the Gaza Strip, the conflict with the Palestinian organization Hamas, which is ruling there, has escalated dangerously. Palestinians fired massive quantities of missiles at Israel. Israeli fighter jets responded by attacking more than 70 military targets in the coastal area, the army said Monday. At least three people were killed according to Palestinian data. Nine other Palestinians have been injured, the Ministry of Health said in Gaza.
Militant Palestinians had fired more than 300 rockets and mortar shells on Israel by evening, Israeli army officials said. An anti-tank grenade hit a bus northeast of the Gaza Strip, where at least one soldier was seriously injured.
According to the army, about 60 missiles were intercepted by the missile defense system Iron Dome (iron dome). Most are smashed in open terrain. However, a handful of projectiles have hit buildings – according to the Israeli police in the cities Ashkelon, Sderot and Ofakim. The Israeli rescue service initially spoke of six injured.
Two of the dead in the Gaza Strip had been members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the group said. A third Palestinian was killed, according to medical officials, during an air raid near Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army allegedly attacked targets of the radical Islamic Hamas and the militant Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad. These include three attack tunnels and a weapons production facility and a base to fire rockets.
In addition, the Air Force had attacked the station of Hamas television station Al-Aksa in Gaza. This spread information to Hamas fighters and call for terrorist activities against Israel. Eyewitnesses from Gaza also reported the attack.
The UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov wrote on Twitter: “The escalation over the past 24 hours is extremely dangerous and inconsiderate.” The United Nations worked closely with, among others, Egypt to calm the situation. The EU called on both sides to avoid anything that would escalate or endanger civilians. “All violent acts must cease immediately,” said a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy Federica Mogherini.
Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, wrote on Twitter: “The Israeli government should be aware that all attacks on the Palestinian people are reported to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
The deployment of an Israeli special unit in the Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean, which triggered the escalation, killed seven militant Palestinians and one Israeli officer on Sunday night. In the incident near Chan Junis were killed according to the Hamas several fighters of their militia. Among them was also a local commander, who was responsible for digging tunnels, rocket attacks on Israel and attacks on Israeli soldiers. In addition, seven other people were injured, said the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
According to Hamas, the Israeli Special Forces had penetrated three kilometers into the southern Gaza Strip with a civilian vehicle. Purpose was to kidnap the 37-year-old Hamas commander Nur Baraka. Militant Palestinians, however, had discovered the special unit in their vehicle near Chan Junis.
The Israelis had killed only Baraka then and then drove off towards the border. Hamas fighters opened the fire and pursued the special unit. Israeli fighter jets intervened to cover the retreat of the soldiers. An Israeli army spokesman emphasized, “This was not a kill attempt and a kidnapping attempt.” A statement said it had only been during a deployment in the Gaza Strip to have a shootout.
According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, more than 220 Palestinians have been killed since March in partially violent protests on the Gaza border with Israel. The protesters call for the lifting of the Gaza blockade that has existed for more than a decade, as well as the return of Palestinian refugees to areas that today belong to Israel.