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Escalation in Gaza after Israel kills militant chief

The military said more than 250 rockets have been fired at Israeli communities since the violence erupted following an Israeli airstrike that killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander accused of being the mastermind of recent attacks.

AFP|
Nov 13, 2019, 11.47 PM IST
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Those attacks came after the early morning strike on Tuesday killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife as they were sleeping.

Gaza City: Israeli airstrikes killed more Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza on Wednesday as rocket fire toward Israel resumed after a brief overnight lull, raising the death toll in the strip to 18 Palestinians in the heaviest round of fighting in months.

The military said more than 250 rockets have been fired at Israeli communities since the violence erupted following an Israeli airstrike that killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander accused of being the mastermind of recent attacks. Israel stepped up its battle against Iran and its proxies across the region. The latest fighting brought life in much of Israel to a standstill. Schools remained closed in Israeli communities near the Gaza border and restrictions on public gatherings continued as rockets rained down. Those attacks came after the early morning strike on Tuesday killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife as they were sleeping. Rocket fire from Gaza reached as far north as Tel Aviv, and two people were wounded by shrapnel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a special Cabinet meeting that Israel has no interest in sparking a wider confrontation but warned the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad that Israel will keep pounding them until the rockets stop. “They know we will continue to strike them without mercy,” Netanyahu said. “They have one choice: either stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows.”

Gaza's Hamas rulers have yet to enter the fray — a possible sign the current round of violence could be brief. Although larger and more powerful than Islamic Jihad, Hamas is also more pragmatic. With Gaza's economy in tatters, it appears to have little desire for more fighting with Israel.

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