Israel launches strikes on Gaza after rockets fired

The Israeli army said its overnight strikes on the Gaza Strip targeted infrastructure belonging to Hamas. (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2020

Israel launches strikes on Gaza after rockets fired

  • Israel also suspended cement deliveries to the enclave and canceled 500 commercial entry permits
  • The Israeli army said its overnight strikes on Gaza targeted infrastructure belonging to Hamas

JERUSALEM: Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Sunday in retaliation for projectiles fired from the Palestinian enclave into southern Israel, the army said.
Military jets and helicopters struck targets linked to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, shortly after midnight, with no reported casualties.
Israel also suspended cement deliveries to the enclave and canceled 500 commercial entry permits into Israel “until further notice.”
The action was taken “due to the continued rocket fire and launchings of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel,” said a statement by Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, head of the Israeli military unit responsible for coordination in the Palestinian territories.
Since the announcement Tuesday by US President Donald Trump of his plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rockets, shells and explosive balloons have been fired almost daily from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, provoking Israeli retaliation.
Palestinians strongly reject the US plan, seen as heavily favoring Israel.
The Trump initiative suggests that Israel would retain control of the contested city of Jerusalem as its “undivided capital” and gives the Jewish state the green light to annex settlements in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.
Rocket fire from Gaza on Saturday night forced Benny Gantz, a leading candidate in Israel’s upcoming general election who was campaigning in southern Israel, to take refuge with his team in a shelter, local media reported.
Former military general Gantz heads the Blue and White party and is the chief rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the March 2 election.
The Israeli army said its overnight strikes on Gaza targeted infrastructure belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled the enclave since 2007.
“Fighter jets and attack helicopters struck a number of Hamas terror targets in the northern Gaza Strip,” it said in a statement.
Among the targets was “underground infrastructure... used as a situation room,” it added.
There were no casualties from the strikes, according to Hamas security sources.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008 but over the past year the Islamists have gradually shaped an informal truce with Israel, under which the Jewish state has eased its crippling blockade of Gaza.


Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old Sanaa houses collapse in heavy rains

Updated 57 min 50 sec ago

Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old Sanaa houses collapse in heavy rains

  • Distinctive brown and white mud brick houses of Sanaa’s historic neighborhoods have long been under threat from conflict and neglect
SANAA: Houses in Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old City of Sanaa are collapsing under heavy rains, as months of floods and storms assail a country already reeling from war, food shortages and disease.
The distinctive brown and white mud brick houses of Sanaa’s historic neighborhoods, which date from before the 11th century, have long been under threat from conflict and neglect.
Muhammad Ali Al-Talhi’s house partially collapsed on Friday as heavy rain battered Sanaa, leaving the six women and six children of his family homeless.
“Everything we had is buried,” he said surrounded by ancient debris and mud, appealing for help to find shelter.
Aqeel Saleh Nassar, deputy head of the Historic Cities Preservation Authority, said citizens today do not maintain these old buildings as in the past, leading to cracks and weakness.
Around 5,000 of the towering buildings in the old city have leaky roofs and 107 have partially collapsed roofs, he said. The authority has been working with UNESCO and other funds to preserve some.
This year’s exceptionally heavy rains, which began mid-April and last into early September, have added to what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Five years of war have killed more than 100,000 people, and left 80 percent of the population reliant on aid and millions on the brink of famine.
On top of the new coronavirus, which is believed to be spreading largely undetected, heavy rains spread diseases like cholera, dengue fever and malaria.
The Iran-aligned Houthi authorities who have controlled Sanaa since ousting the internationally recognized Saudi-backed Yemeni government in late 2014, appealed this week to UNESCO to save the city’s heritage.
They said around 111 houses had partly or completely collapsed in recent weeks.
Sanaa resident Adel San’ani on Saturday told Reuters he saw five houses severely damaged this weekend.
“The families have no shelter. A local bank launched a campaign to distribute plastic sheeting to act as roofs,” he said.