First Gaza rocket in six weeks draws Israeli response

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 December 2018

First Gaza rocket in six weeks draws Israeli response

  • “An army attack helicopter targeted a Hamas military position in the south of the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said
  • Mass protests along the border since March 30 have triggered deadly clashes with the Israel army that have raised fears of a fourth

JERUSALEM: An Israeli aircraft hit a Hamas position in the Gaza Strip late on Friday in response to the first fire from the territory since a November flare-up, the military said.
“An army attack helicopter targeted a Hamas military position in the south of the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said.
It said it had responded after a “launch toward Israel” that Israeli media said was a rocket.
Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas said the Israeli aircraft fired two missiles which damaged one of their positions but caused no casualties.
It was the first rocket fire from Gaza since an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire announced on November 13 ended the worst flare-up around the territory since a 2014 war.
In the space of 48 hours, hundreds of rockets and mortar rounds were fired into Israel, killing one person and wounding 27.
The barrage followed a botched Israeli commando raid which killed a Hamas commander and six other militants as well as an Israeli officer.
Seven Gazans were killed and 26 wounded in retaliatory Israeli air strikes before the cease-fire took effect.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and mass protests along the border since March 30 have triggered deadly clashes with the Israel army that have raised fears of a fourth.
During a protest on Friday, Israeli fire killed Karam Fayyad, 26, on the border east of the city of Khan Yunis, the Gaza health ministry said.
At least 240 Palestinians have been killed since the demonstrations began, most of them by Israeli fire during border clashes but also by air and tank strikes.


Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

Updated 9 min 26 sec ago

Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

  • The Syrian Observatory reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control
  • The Idlib region is one of the last holdouts of opposition forces

DAMASCUS: Thousands have returned to their hometowns in northwest Syria after military advances by government loyalist against militants and allied rebels, state media said Sunday.
“Thousands of citizens return to their villages and towns of the northern Hama countryside and the southern Idlib countryside,” state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control.
Since August 31, a cease-fire announced by regime backer Russia has largely held in northwestern Syria, though the Observatory has reported sporadic bombardment.
SANA said the returns came amid “government efforts to return the displaced to their towns and villages.”
The Idlib region of around three million people, many of them dispaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow announced the cease-fire late last month after four months of deadly violence that displaced 400,000 people, most of whom fled north within the jihadist-run bastion, according to the United Nations.
Regime forces had chipped away at the southern edges of the jihadist-run stronghold throughout August, retaking towns and villages in the north of Hama province and the south of Idlib province.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Assad’s regime now controls more than 60 percent of the country after notching up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists with key Russian backing since 2015.
But a large chunk of Idlib, fully administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate since January, as well as a Kurdish-held swathe of the oil-rich northeast, remain beyond its reach.