Israel conducts airstrikes, shuts down checkpoints in retaliation for rocket fire from Gaza
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it conducted airstrikes in Gaza on Wednesday after a rocket attack on the Israeli city of Be’er Sheva. One of the rockets that came from the Palestinian side landed near a house, causing some damage and injuring three people, Israel Radio reported, citing medical officials.
The IDF retaliation targeted eight locations in Gaza. According to Palestinian health officials, three people were injured in Rafah by an Israeli airstrike. The IDF claimed that its airstrikes prevented a new rocket attack on Israeli territory.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the closure of two Gaza border checkpoints and enforce a smaller-than-regular three-nautical-mile limit for Palestinian fishing boats in response to the rocket fire.
The latest escalation in tensions comes after months of Palestinian protests on the Gaza border, which prompt the IDF to engage the rioters with deadly force. More than 204 Palestinians have been killed and over 22,000 others injured by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return began on March 30.
On Tuesday, Lieberman noted that Tel Aviv is "not prepared to accept the level of violence" witnessed every week. He also urged the cabinet to authorize a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza to put end to violence.
The last major Israeli intrusion into Gaza began in July 2014, when the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks on Israeli territory. The seven-week long conflict is estimated to have claimed over 2,100 Palestinian lives, with another 10,000 injured in the offensive.
Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has also caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure. For its part Israel lost seven of its soldiers and five civilians from Hamas rocket fire. Another 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.
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