4 Palestinians killed during border protests

A photo taken on July 20, 2018 shows a fireball exploding in Gaza City during Israeli bombardment. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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4 Palestinians killed during border protests

  • Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and one more near Rafah
  • Airstrikes were continuing into the evening, with a number of explosions in different parts of Gaza

GAZA: Israeli forces unleashed a wave of strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday after saying troops came under fire, killing three Hamas members as a fresh escalation heightened fears of wider conflict.
Fireballs exploded into the sky over the Palestinian enclave as the UN urged all sides to step “back from the brink” of war after months of tensions.
A fourth Palestinian was also shot dead during protests along the frontier with Israel, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said “everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now!“
“Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed,” he wrote on Twitter.
An Israeli army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier and “in response... aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”
It did not say if any Israeli soldiers were hurt in the shooting.
Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and one more near Rafah, the enclave’s health ministry said.
The military wing of Hamas named the three men as Shaban Abu Khatar, Mohammed Abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.
Israel’s military said its aircraft and tanks had targeted “eight military posts” belonging to Hamas.
It said jets were conducting strikes in “various locations” as part of a “wide-scale attack.”
“Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the military warned.
Airstrikes were continuing into the evening, with a number of explosions in different parts of Gaza, AFP correspondents said.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said a fourth man named as Mohammed Badwan was later shot dead by Israeli forces during protests along the border.
Israeli media reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was receiving an emergency briefing from the army on the situation.
Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war, raising worries of another round of conflict.
Israel hit dozens of sites it said belonged to militants in the Gaza Strip in Saturday’s strikes, killing two Palestinian teenagers.
The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot.
For more than a week, Israel has been hardening its response to kites and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza
In recent days, the Israeli army has opened fire at groups launching such devices. Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned of a “much tougher” response against Hamas if it fires more rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Israeli DefenSe Minister Avigdor Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.
Israeli television this week broadcast footage of army training maneuvers for an incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu also conducted a tour along the border region for the first time since the start of the clashes.
Government officials such as Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan have called for systematic attacks on kite launchers.
Israel has also further tightened its blockade of Gaza by closing the only goods crossing, suspending oil and gas deliveries.


Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

Updated 20 min 9 sec ago
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Israel army says delegation heading to Russia over Lebanon ops

  • The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels
JERUSALEM: An Israeli army delegation will head to Moscow on Tuesday to brief their Russian counterparts on operations to destroy Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon, the military said.
“An Israeli army delegation composed of senior officers and led by the head of army operations, General Aharon Haliva, will fly to Moscow on Tuesday,” the military said in a statement.
“During the day-long visit, the delegation will brief their Russian counterparts on Operation Northern Shield and other operational issues,” said the statement issued on Monday.
The announcement came after a telephone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Israel on Wednesday launched an operation — dubbed Northern Shield — aimed at destroying alleged Hezbollah “attack tunnels” infiltrating its territory from Lebanon.
Ties between Israel and Russia have been strained since the accidental downing of one of Moscow’s transport planes on September 17 by Syrian ground batteries killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the incident on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian plane for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system.
The Kremlin said on Saturday that Netanyahu had called Putin to discuss the operation against alleged Hezbollah tunnels.
During the conversation, Putin stressed “the need to ensure stability along the dividing line between Israel and Lebanon,” according to Russia’s embassy in Israel.
Netanyahu for his part reaffirmed Israel’s policy of preventing the establishment of an Iranian presence in Syria and to “act against the aggression of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000, and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement claimed credit for its withdrawal following persistent guerrilla attacks.
The two countries are still technically at war but the border has remained relatively calm in recent years.
Russia is fighting on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah in support of President Bashar Assad in Syria.