Two killed in Israeli air raid on Gaza

Air raid hits targets east of Jabaliya, a day after Hamas said it was 'committed to calm'.

    Israeli jets staged three air strikes over Gaza on Wednesday, hours after a bomb hit a bus in West Jerusalem [AFP]

    Two people have been killed and three others wounded in an Israeli air strike early on Sunday, hospital officials told Al Jazeera.  

    The raid hit targets east of Jabaliya, Adham Abu Senmya, a spokesman for Gaza emergency services, told the AFP news agency.

    An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the raid, saying "an air force plane attacked on Sunday morning a terrorist cell that was preparing to fire a rocket at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip."

    Islamic Jihad, an armed Palestinian group, said that the two people killed belonged to its military wing, the Al Quds Brigade. Countering the claim that they were preparing to fire a rocket, the group said those targeted were standing outside their homes.

    After weeks of bloody clashes with Israel that have killed eight Palestinians, Hamas-led fighters met on Saturday and declared that they wanted to restore calm in Gaza.

    Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Islamic Jihad and other factions that "we are committed to calm as long as the occupation [Israel] commits to it."

    Israel says that it is conducting the raids in response to more than 70 rockets being fired into Israeli territory from Gaza.

    On Friday, Prime Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said his country was ready to act with "great force" in response to rocket and mortar fire, which sparked retaliation from Israel.

    Officials from both sides have said, however, that they wish to prevent a repeat of Israel's 2009 war on Gaza, a three-week assault during which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

    'Iron dome' deployment 

    Meanwhile, a new defence system, meant to protect southern Israel from rocket attacks, will go into operation later on Sunday, the Israeli military says.

    Earlier failures to to deploy the $200 million Iron Dome anti-rocket system have led to questions being asked about its effectiveness.

    Matan Vilnai, an Israeli minister, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday that even once it was deployed, the system would not provide full protection to residents of Israel's south.

    Iron Dome is to begin operating in the area around Beersheba, the largest southern Israeli city. A second missile battery will soon be deployed in Ashdod, another large southern city, the military said. No specific date has been given for that deployment.

    The Iron Dome system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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