Israeli warplanes hit Hamas in Gaza: army

Updated 26 March 2018

Israeli warplanes hit Hamas in Gaza: army

JERUSALEM: Israeli jets pounded Hamas positions in Gaza overnight after Palestinians staged a cross-border raid into southern Israel, the military said early Sunday.
“Israel Air Force fighter jets targeted a terror target in a military compound belonging to the Hamas terror organization in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip,” it said in an English-language statement.
A Palestinian security source in the coastal enclave said the planes hit a base of Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, causing damage but no injuries.
The strike on the Strip’s Islamist rulers came after four Palestinians “carrying bottles filled with flammable material” breached Gaza’s border fence on Saturday evening near the kibbutz of Kissufim, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, citing the army.
There, they attempted to torch heavy equipment used for work on the frontier barrier, an army spokeswoman told AFP.
The machinery was damaged but did not catch fire, and the attackers fled back into Gaza, she said.
No casualties were reported.
“The incident that took place yesterday is one of many severe incidents that have taken place in the security fence area,” the statement said.
Israel holds Hamas, which rules Gaza, accountable for all attacks launched from the blockaded coastal territory.
Speaking later Sunday, the head of Israeli military intelligence warned that further such incidents would make things worse for Hamas.
“Hamas is at a low point, suffering severe civilian and infrastructure crises,” Major General Herzl Halevi said at a conference.
“Hamas is running into the arms of Iran and exploiting civilians by sending them to the (security fence that divides Gaza and Israel),” he said.
“Hamas must understand such conduct will only make its situation worse.”
Late Sunday in a sign of heightened tensions, air raid sirens went off in southern Israel after the Iron Dome defense system was activated and launched a number of anti-missile projectiles.
A military spokeswoman told AFP that no projectiles were actually fired at Israel, with the Iron Dome possibly set off by machine gunfire in Gaza.
Last month there was a surge in cross-border violence, seen as among the most serious since Israel and Hamas fought a war in 2014 — their third since 2008.
After a bomb wounded four Israeli soldiers inspecting the border fence on February 17, Israel responded by pounding 18 Hamas facilities in two waves of air strikes.
Israeli ground forces also killed two Palestinian teenagers in cross-border fire.

Saudi desert gears up for Dakar Rally in January

Updated 4 min 17 sec ago

Saudi desert gears up for Dakar Rally in January

  • Taking place from January 5 to 17, the 7500-kilometer adventure will be hosted in Asia for the first time
  • The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh

DUBAI: The countdown begins for the Sakar Rally Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, where hundreds of drivers from different countries are set to brave Saudi desert over 13 days.

Taking place from January 5 to 17, the 7500-kilometer adventure will be hosted in Asia for the first time. The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh.

“We were really excited by the extremely beautiful landscape and the deserts were exactly what we expected with the dunes, the nice mountains and small canyons. We have some stages along the sea also, so it will be a mixed landscape, which is very interesting,” 13-time Dakar Rally winner Stéphane Peterhansel said.

The drivers will undergo 12 stages throughout the race, where they will experience different terrains and explore the Kingdom’s landscape.

It will start in Jeddah for 752 kilometer, then continues up north along the coast for nearly 900 kilometer through the Red Sea Project until it reaches the megacity Neom, where the journey reaches its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 meters amid a series of canyons and mountains.

From Neom, the racers will cruise 676 kilometers Al Ula in Dakar’s fourth stage before the sandy hills of Ha’il put the navigation skills of competitors to the test while descending south onto Riyadh.

A rest day in the capital will be followed by Dakar Saudi Arabia’s longest stage – a 741-kilometer route to the west in the center of the kingdom’s enormous desert before looping back towards Haradh in the eastern governorate of Al Ahsa.

The racers will then enter the Empty Quarter for the grand finals, where the winner will be crowned on the final podium.