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Israel launches massive air raid on Gaza - IDF

Israel launches massive air raid on Gaza - IDF
The Israeli military has started a broad air attack on Hamas position in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement. It comes after one IDF soldier was killed in serious border clashes on the Gaza border.

Later, the IDF also confirmed that one Israeli soldier died after coming under fire on the Gaza border earlier on Friday. The soldier was “severely injured” during operational activity near the southern Gaza strip and then succumbed to his wounds, the IDF statement says.

“The IDF views today's attack and the hostile activity orchestrated by Hamas throughout the last months with great severity. Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the Israeli military stated.

The statement said earlier in response to the border clashes the IDF used aircraft and tanks to attack Hamas fighters.

Friday’s raid comes as a deadline given by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Hamas to stop kite attacks or face consequences expired. Israel’s top security officials reportedly held a meeting, after which the country may launch a full-scale military operation similar to the one in 2014, RT’s Paula Slier reported.

“This flare-up comes four years after the last Gaza war, which is known as Operation Protective Edge. That war lasted seven weeks and in it thousands of people killed, and the concern on the ground as tension escalates is that we may be witnessing another war unfolding in the coming hours,” she said.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, called on “everyone in Gaza” to take a “step away” from what he called the “brink” of another war. The tensions should be eased “not next week” and “not tomorrow” but “right now!” he wrote in a Twitter post, adding that “those, who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war, must not succeed.”

The threats issued by Liberman might, however, indicate that the Israelis are actually “preparing the environment for a new war,” Mohsen Abu Ramadan, a Palestine-based political analyst, told RT, commenting on the issue. He then said that “Israel just wants to have a justification to strike Gaza” in what he called “collective punishment.”

The Israeli defense and political commentator, Amir Oren, said, on the contrary, that “both sides show no enthusiasm to be drawn into a larger conflict and they are trying to limit either the [number of] targets or the means that they employ.” Oren then went on to say that Israel is actually “not interested in occupying Gaza but it could still be drawn into military action as it cannot protect its citizens along the border.” At the same time, he said that the current Israeli strikes “are not excessive” and expressed his hope that everything would “get back to normal.”

The escalation comes after months of tension in the Gaza Strip, where thousands of protesters gathered weekly at a fence erected by the Israeli forces for the so-called Great Return March. Dozens of civilians have been killed by Israeli snipers in what Israel called a measured response to Hamas attempts to break through the wall.

As the number of casualties piled on the Palestinian side, the confrontation became increasingly violent on their part as well. Protesters went from burning tires and throwing rocks to launching incendiary kites and balloons towards the Israeli-controlled territories. Lately, militant groups in Gaza escalated launches of rockets.

Israel blames Hamas for instigating the protests, which have lasted for over 100 days now, and is routinely using airstrikes and tanks to strike what it calls Hamas targets.

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