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31 Mar, 2019 02:39

Israel targets 'Hamas posts' with tank fire after Gaza rockets land in open space

Israel targets 'Hamas posts' with tank fire after Gaza rockets land in open space

Israel has pelted the positions of Palestinian militants with tank fire after five rockets were launched from Gaza without inflicting any damage. The exchange of fire comes after a day of mass Palestinian protests.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have confirmed that its tanks shelled "a number of Hamas military posts" in Gaza in retaliation to an earlier attack by Palestinians that saw them firing five rockets towards Israeli territory.

The rockets landed inside the Eshkol region along the border with Gaza, triggering sirens in the area shortly after midnight. The local authorities said the rockets did not inflict any damage or casualties, striking open areas.

It's unclear if the Israeli retaliatory strike resulted in any damage to the militant group that has been ruling the besieged Gaza since 2007 amid an ongoing blockade of the stretch of land along the Mediterranean by Israel and Egypt.

It is the first cross-border fire incident since earlier this week, which saw two days of heavy bombing by Israel in response to a missile attack from Gaza that hit a home injuring seven Israelis on Monday.

Israeli planes bombarded what they claimed were Hamas positions in Gaza. PM Netanyahu ordered an infantry brigade and artillery battalion to move to the Gaza border on Monday. The bombing continued into Tuesday, as the situation risked spiraling into an all-out war, with the Israeli PM hinting at a potential military invasion of Gaza.

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The violence has subsided due to Egyptian mediation and a shaky truce held during Saturday's mass protests along the Gaza border. While the IDF sang rare praise for Hamas, commending it for exercising restraint during the rally that marked the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests, the protests still did not end casualty-free for the Palestinians. The Gaza Health Ministry reported that three 17-year-old teenagers were killed in the protests while about 300 people were injured.

Up to 40,000 protesters turned up to the rally, many brandishing Palestinian flags, to decry the occupation of the West Bank and the continuing blockade of Gaza. The protests, fueled by US President Donald Trump's decision to move the Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem in May, have been marred by violence, with Palestinians accusing the IDF of disproportionate use of force. Nearly 200 Palestinians have died in the course of the protests, and over 6,000 have been wounded.

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