Israel intensifies attacks on Hamas targets

NAfter ongoing rocket attacks by militant Palestinians, Israel’s army intensified its attacks on the Gaza Strip on Friday night. “Air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli army said on Twitter. Israeli television reported massive attacks by the air force as well as artillery and armored forces on the coastal strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the attacks: “I said that Hamas would pay a very high price.” The attacks will “continue with great intensity,” he said in a video message. “The last word has not yet been spoken and this operation will continue as long as necessary.”

Israeli television reported it was the most violent and broadest attack in the Gaza Strip since the escalation began on Monday. The army called on Israelis in the border towns, who live up to four kilometers away from the Gaza Strip, to go to shelters until further notice.

But no Israeli ground troops in Gaza

On Thursday evening it was announced at short notice that Israeli ground troops had advanced into the Gaza Strip. Later the army announced that there were “no soldiers” in the Gaza Strip. Corresponding previous information was due to an internal communication problem, explained an army spokesman for this “clarification”. Previously, after days of rocket fire, Israel had moved additional troops from the Palestinian Territory to the border.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz had previously approved the mobilization of a further 9,000 reservists in view of the escalation. Two days ago the army had mobilized 5,000 reservists. According to media reports, the army was preparing for a possible ground offensive.

Palestinian militants continued their violent rocket attacks on Israeli population centers on Thursday. Numerous cities were shelled again in the evening, including Ashkelon, Ashdod and Modiin. Missiles were also fired in the direction of Tel Aviv International Airport. In a village in the south of the country, according to rescue workers, an 87-year-old was fatally injured while fleeing to a shelter.

The Israeli military also continued its massive attacks on the coastal area on Thursday. According to the Ministry of Health, 103 people have died in the Gaza Strip since the escalation of violence. According to official figures, eight people have been killed in rocket attacks in Israel so far. The Islamist Hamas ruling in the Gaza Strip is classified by Israel and the EU as a terrorist organization.

Hamas threatens kidnappings

A spokesman for the Hamas military arm said an Israeli ground offensive would be “an opportunity to bring into our possession more dead soldiers and prisoners of the enemy.” One is ready to “teach the enemy a hard lesson with God’s help”. More than 2,100 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis were killed in the 50-day Gaza War in 2014, according to both sides. According to the UN emergency aid organization Ocha, 18,000 houses in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or damaged.

According to the army, around 1,750 rockets have been fired at Israel since Monday evening. According to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, almost 1,000 targets of the militant Palestinians have been shot at so far.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) told the newspaper Bild: “At least the most recent escalation was deliberately brought about by Hamas by firing over a thousand rockets at Israeli cities.” Germany is committed to an immediate end to the violence. In this country the police should “protect Jewish institutions with the utmost attention.

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