Palestinians fire rockets, Israel hits Gaza, a few days after the US called for peace By Reuters

Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes struck Gaza on Thursday in response to Palestinian rocket fire, days after the United States called on all sides to calm the escalating violence.

With no serious casualties reported, the exchange followed a familiar pattern that signaled that neither side wanted a wider conflict.

Separately, Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), would use 100 million shekels ($29.38 million) from PA funds to compensate victims of attacks by Palestinian militants, compared to the stipends the PA pays to the families of the attackers, Finance Minister Bezalel said Smotrich.

There was no immediate comment from PA.

The military said its airstrikes targeted rocket and weapons production sites used by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the blockaded belt, in response to Wednesday’s rocket launch.

No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket fire. An unconfirmed video circulating on social media showed three rockets before launch, one of which read “prisoners are the red line”.

Powerful explosions rocked buildings and lit up the night sky over Gaza as warning sirens sounded in Israeli towns and villages around the Strip warning of incoming rocket fire before dawn on Thursday.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said it fired some of the rockets in response to airstrikes and “systematic aggression” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The exchange of fire underscored tensions between Israel and Palestinians after a Palestinian gunman killed seven people near a synagogue in a Jerusalem suburb and an Israeli attack in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians, including eight militants.

Last year was the deadliest in more than a decade in the West Bank, with violence steadily escalating following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israel, prompting increased Israeli attacks on gunmen.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for calm at the end of a visit to the region on Tuesday, in which he reaffirmed Washington’s support for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.

The top US diplomat for the Middle East, Barbara Leaf, and the US special representative for Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, remained to continue de-escalation talks between the sides and are scheduled to meet with Palestinian officials on Thursday.

In a tweet sent after Wednesday’s rocket launch, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees prisons, said he would press ahead with plans to tighten conditions for Palestinian prisoners.

Separately, an Iran-backed Islamic Jihad official said a delegation from the group’s politburo, led by the faction’s exiled chief Ziyad al-Nakhal, would visit Cairo on Friday for talks that would also include the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the visit was scheduled before the latest violence, but said the current escalation in Gaza and the West Bank would inevitably be discussed.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *