Israeli military says mortar shells fired from Gaza

Israel army's statement says three shells fired from besieged enclave, as tensions over Trump's plan continue.

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    Israel and Hamas have been in an uneasy truce for several months [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]
    Israel and Hamas have been in an uneasy truce for several months [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

    Jerusalem - Three mortar shells have been fired from the besieged Gaza Strip enclave into southern Israel, the country's military has said in a statement, amid tensions in the region over US President Donald Trump's proposed Middle East plan.

    The Israeli army's statement on Friday said its Iron Dome anti-missile air defence system intercepted a projectile midair as violence continued for a second day. No casualties were reported, it added.

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    Earlier on Friday, Israel struck Hamas targets in Gaza after three rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave, the Israeli army said.

    Two of the rockets fired on Thursday night were also intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system, while the third landed in an open area, the statement said.

    No casualties were reported in the earlier attack too and there was no claim of responsibility for it.

    Israeli media said a mother and a newborn child in Serdot were slightly injured after the woman fell when running to a shelter following the sounding of sirens.

    Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem told Al Jazeera that Israeli air raids targeted the Gaza Strip, but challenged that Hamas had launched an attack on Israel before that.

    "Israel alleges that we launched rockets, but we cannot take their narrative," said Qasem, neither denying nor confirming Israel's claim.

    "Israel's airstrikes early this morning are part of the occupation's ongoing attacks and enmity towards our people in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem."

    Middle East plan

    Israel said a mortar was fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Thursday. Israeli media reported an explosion near Kissufim in southern Israel and security forces scouring the area. No casualties were reported in that alleged attack.

    The exchanges follow the announcement of Trump's proposed Middle East plan, which promised a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and gave Israel an "undivided capital" in Jerusalem.

    Tuesday's announcement angered Palestinian leaders and people, who promised to "fight against the deal".

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    Israel has since deployed additional troops near the Gaza separation barrier, which saw hundreds of people protesting against the plan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The Israeli military was also deployed to the occupied West Bank's Jordan Valley, which under the plan would be annexed to Israel.

    Trump's plan seeks to disarm Hamas, the group which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 and is designated a "terrorist" organisation by the US.

    Another Hamas spokesperson Abdellatif Al-Qanoun told Al Jazeera that the group rejected the plan.

    "Hamas will not accept to be disarmed. It is not acceptable to talk about the disarmament of Hamas or any other Palestinian resistance faction.

    "The Palestinian resistance arm is legitimate and our right to defend ourselves against this brutal occupation is legally guaranteed."

    Informal truce

    Hamas and Israel have agreed an informal truce over the past year, under which Tel Aviv has slightly eased its crippling blockade of the Strip in exchange for calm.

    But after an Israel killed a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad armed group in Gaza in November, and launched attacks killing at least 36 Palestinians, tensions escalated. 

    Political analyst Ellie Nissan said an exchange of rockets will continue over the next few months, but the situation was unlikely to escalate.

    "Nothing will change on the ground until after the elections because [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has achieved what he wants in terms of garnering support ahead of the vote," said Nissan referring to upcoming parliamentary elections on March 2, the third in less than a year.

    "If an Israeli is killed in these attacks, however, Israel will have to respond," he added.

    Additional reporting by Maram Humaid

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News