Friday, August 19, 2011

Gaza militants fire rockets into Israel after raids

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen: "Everything is quite fragile here right now"
One person has been seriously injured and others hurt in the Israeli town of Ashdod by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials say.
The missile was one of 12 fired at southern Israeli towns on Friday.
The attacks came after Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza, targeting those it blamed for an attack on Thursday in which eight Israelis died.
Palestinians say at least seven people were killed in the Israeli raids, including a senior militant leader.
Israeli reports said rockets were fired at Ashkelon, Beersheva, Kiryat Gat and Ashdod on Friday morning.
Most of the missiles landed in open ground, causing no damage or injuries, but one landed in the grounds of a religious seminary, or yeshiva, seriously wounding one person.
Another hit an industrial park on the outskirts of Ashdod, injuring six, Haaretz newspaper reported, while the rocket aimed at Ashkelon was shot down by Israel's new Iron Dome missile defence system.
Bus attacked Palestinian sources told the BBC that four members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) - which is loyal to Hamas but sometimes operates separately - were killed in the Israeli strikes overnight, including the group's head, Kamal al-Nairab.
Burned out bus near Eilat, Israel (18 Aug 2011) Israel promised to respond strongly to the attack on the bus near Eilat
PRC military chief Immad Hammad and the son of the owner of the house they were in were also among those killed, Palestinian sources and residents said. Hamas said two children had been killed.
Further air strikes took place in the early hours of Friday morning.
Israel said it carried out the strikes in response to attacks near Eilat on Thursday, when at least eight Israelis were killed by gunmen who opened fire on a bus.
Israeli officials said at least two other vehicles were then hit nearby - one by a rocket and one by an explosive device.
A number of gunmen were killed in an ensuing firefight. An Israeli official said gunfire on either side of the border continued into the evening.
The PRC has denied involvement in the attacks in Israel, Reuters reported.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the overnight air strikes had killed those responsible.

Series of attacks

  • Shooting attack on bus near Eilat wounds 14 Israelis, including five soldiers
  • Other vehicles hit soon after, killing eight Israelis - six civilians and two security personnel
  • Israeli military patrol vehicle targeted, no immediate reports of injuries
  • Seven suspected gunmen are killed as Israeli security forces confront them
  • Israeli air strikes on Gaza kill at least seven people, including a militant leader and a child
  • Several Israelis injured, one seriously, by rocket attacks on southern Israel
"The people who gave the order to murder our people and hid in Gaza are no longer among the living," he said in a televised address.
"If anyone thinks the state of Israel will resign itself to this, they are wrong."
A spokesman for Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, said several of those who died in the air strikes had been involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television reported that security forces in Gaza had evacuated their headquarters in anticipation of Israeli military action.
In response, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: "The real source of the terror is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force and determination."
Hamas, which governs Gaza, denied responsibility, and said it would retaliate if Israel attacked.
"We will not stand handcuffed and we will spearhead resistance to the occupation," Hamas official Salah Al-Bardaweel was quoted as saying.
The US, the EU and the UN have all condemned the Eilat attacks, while a UN spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "concerned at the risk of escalation and calls for all to act with restraint".
Desert security Israeli officials said the men who attacked the vehicles near Eilat came from the Gaza Strip and had entered Israel through Egypt's Sinai desert.
BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, in Jerusalem, says the desert region has become increasingly lawless since the Egyptian revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, with a rise in al-Qaeda inspired militant activity.
However, given the substantial distance between the Sinai desert and Gaza, it is unclear why Israel is so certain the attackers were Gazans, says our correspondent.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the violence "only underscores our strong concerns about the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula".
"Recent commitments by the Egyptian government to address the security situation in the Sinai are important and we urge the Egyptian government to find a lasting resolution," she said.
Late on Thursday, Egyptian officials said at least two Egyptians were killed near the border in northern Sinai.
Details of the deaths were unclear, though there were reports that gunmen had attacked a police post.
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