Gaza City – Israeli fighter jets have launched several air attacks in the blockaded Gaza Strip, leading to a power outage in some areas, according to local sources.
Among the main targets of Friday’s strikes were sites used by Palestinian armed resistance factions in the Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, said Hamas, the group that runs the territory.
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An Israeli army spokesman said that warplanes had attacked a Hamas site in the central Gaza Strip, indicating that the attack came in response to the launching of rockets from Gaza towards Israel – the first rockets launched since Israel’s three-day military offensive in the territory.
Earlier in the night, four rockets were fired from Gaza, three of which did not reach Israeli territory, while one rocket was intercepted by air defence systems, the Israeli military said.
No Palestinian faction claimed the rocket attacks.
“The barbaric Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip at dawn today is a blatant act of aggression, and represents an extension of its open war against our people in all the places we exist,” said Hazem Qasem, a spokesman for Hamas.
“Israeli bombing will only make Palestinians more determined to resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people,” Qasem added.
Israeli reports said that the rocket launches from Gaza were in response to the Israeli army’s killing on Thursday, of the Islamic Jihad member Farouk Salameh in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
The exchanges come after nearly a month of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank that has escalated amid near daily Israeli raids, particularly in Nablus and Jenin.
Salameh was one of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Thursday in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
The violence flared as Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the victor of Israel’s parliamentary elections, held earlier this week.
Gaza has been largely quiet since the fighting in August, which began when Israel launched air raids in what it said were preemptive attacks targeting the Islamic Jihad group.
Since the beginning of this year, at least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, including at least Palestinians killed during Israel’s three-day assault on Gaza in August, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Israel and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have fought four wars and engaged in several smaller skirmishes during the past 15 years.
A tight blockade has been maintained by Israel and Egypt on Gaza for 14 years, and critics have said the policy amounts to the collective punishment of the region’s two million Palestinian residents.