Israel strikes Gaza, Syria after Palestinian rockets attacks

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israel military said yesterday that it struck Palestinian militants targets in Gaza and Syria in response to rockets fired toward southern Israel last Sunday evening, hours after Israel said it killed a Palestinian militant who tried to place a bomb along the Israel-Gaza barrier fence.

The Palestinian militant group claimed responsibility for the rocket barrages.

The Israeli military reported air raid sirens throughout southern Israel and said at least 20 rockets had been fired. There were no reports of damage or injuries on the Israeli side, but it was the heaviest barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip in several months. Air raid sirens continued into the evening, and Israel’s Home Front Command ordered the suspension of classes in Israeli schools in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip yesterday and prohibited large gatherings.

In response to the rocket fire, the Israeli military said aircraft struck “dozens of terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip” and a facility belonging to the militant group outside Damascus.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported that four Palestinians were treated at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City for wounds caused by the Israeli strikes.

An Israel airstrike at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip last Sunday. PHOTO: AFP

The militant group said in a statement that the airstrikes on Damascus killed two of its members, identifying them as Salim Salim, 24, and Ziad Mansour, 23. It did not disclose their nationalities or elaborate on their roles.

It vowed to respond to the deaths of its members.

Israel and the militant group engaged in a heavy round of fighting last November after the Israeli military killed a top militant commander.

Since then, Israel and Gaza’s more powerful Hamas group have been working through Egyptian mediators to cement an informal ceasefire. But militant group has continued to try to carry out attacks.

The militant group said the man killed along the border was a militant. Israel said the man was planting explosives along the border fence.

Amateur video on Palestinian social media showed an Israeli bulldozer crossing into Gaza and then lifting up his body.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused the Israeli military of abusing the body, saying that it “bears the consequences of the ugly crime.”

The military said it was removing the body in a way that prevented further danger to those around. But the images generated widespread anger in Gaza, where it was seen as a provocation and violation of principles that call for respect for the dead.

It also sparked criticism of Hamas on social media, with people accusing the group of appearing weak and allowing Israel to operate with impunity inside Gaza’s territory.