Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza following rocket fire

OPEN TARGET: A water tower is seen after local residents said it was damaged by an Israeli shell at Beit Hanoun in Gaza, following a rocket that landed in the Israeli town of Sderot which the Israeli army and police said was launched from Gaza, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 21 August 2016
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Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza following rocket fire

JERUSALEM: Israel targeted Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip by air and with tank fire Sunday after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave crashed into the Israeli city of Sderot.
Police said the rocket hit “between two buildings on a road” in Sderot, which is less than four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Gaza, causing no casualties.
Army spokesman Peter Lerner said Israeli forces retaliated by hitting targets in northern Gaza.
“In response to the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, the IAF (Israeli air force) and tanks targeted two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip,” Lerner said in a statement.
Palestinian health and security sources said two people were lightly wounded by the Israeli fire.
“One of them is a 20-year-old (young man) who was hit by shrapnel in the face,” said Ashraf Al-Qudra, spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Security sources in the territory said several targets in northen Gaza were struck by Israeli fire, and that a reservoir in Beit Hanun was destroyed.
Witnesses said a base of Hamas’s military wing the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, in nearby Beit Lahya, was also hit.
Israeli media said it was the first time downtown Sderot had been hit by a rocket from Gaza since the last war with Palestinian militants in the territory in 2014.
On July 2, Israeli air raids hit four sites in Gaza after a rocket struck a building in Sderot. There were no casualties in either incident.


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 48 min 7 sec ago
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.