Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Israel launches new attacks on Hamas in Gaza

By Yehudit Tzfat - November 24, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza]

Israeli forces launched air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip just two days after a ceasefire went into effect following fighting between the two sides.

The Israeli army targeted Hamas’ sites on 16 November — the first time the organisation was directly attacked after an exchange of rocket fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second-most powerful group. 

Fighting broke out on 12 November after Israel assassinated Islamic Jihad’s top commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata. The murder of the 42-year-old leader during a raid in his house prompted rocket fire from Islamic Jihad at Israel. In response to the attacks, the Israeli army launched airstrikes in Gaza. 

A ceasefire was agreed after two days of violence, with joint coordination from Egypt and the United Nations. 

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said that despite a negotiated ceasefire, the situation in Gaza is still fragile. 

"We meet today in the aftermath of the most serious recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. Although the immediate crisis was diffused, the situation remains highly volatile," Mladenov told a monthly Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Wednesday.

"If we want a way out of this crisis, a way out that leads to something more than yet another cease-fire, the road is clear: stop firing rockets, retaliatory strikes and provocations, uphold the understandings that sustain calm in Gaza, redouble efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and lift the closures, and focus on a long-term, sustainable political solution that includes allowing the Palestinian people across the occupied territory to vote and elect their leaders for the first time since 2006," Mladenov said. 

The escalation resulted in 34 Palestinians killed and 109 injured. Israel recorded 78 injured, and no deaths. Among those killed were eight family members — including five children — in a single Israeli airstrike. 

Israel Defense Forces admitted the family’s home was mistakenly targeted. The IDF said it is investigating the attacks on civilians. 

Rocket fire struck a home of Rasmi Abu Malhous, a member of Islamic Jihad, and his brother Mohamed, a Palestinian Authority employee in Deir al-Balah on 14 November. The bombing killed Rasmi, his wife Maryam, three of his 11 children, Mohamed's wife Yousra and two of their children. 

"According to the information available to the IDF at the time of the strike, no civilians were expected to be harmed as a result of the strike," an IDF spokesperson told Al Jazeera. "The IDF is investigating the harm caused to civilians by the strike."

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