Is­rael threat­ens Ira­nian forces in Syria af­ter rocket at­tacks

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - News -

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Pales­tinian mil­i­tants ceased rocket at­tacks from Gaza into Is­rael and rel­a­tive calm pre­vailed Satur­day af­ter­noon af­ter a night-long ex­change of fire that prompted Is­raeli threats against Ira­nian forces in Syria.

The Is­lamic Ji­had group, a mil­i­tant fac­tion op­er­at­ing in the Ha­mas-ruled Gaza but that has close ties to Iran and Syria, said they agreed to Egyp­tian me­di­a­tion ef­forts and halted the rocket fire, the heav­i­est to em­anate from Gaza in months.

“The Egyp­tian ef­forts led to un­der­stand­ings to re­store calm to Gaza Strip. We ap­pre­ci­ate the Egyp­tian en­deavor and hope for all kinds of (Is­raeli) ag­gres­sion to stop,” said Khaled alBatsh, an Is­lamic Ji­had of­fi­cial.

Ha­mas, the larger mil­i­tant group that con­trols Gaza, ac­cused Is­rael of re­sort­ing to mil­i­tary es­ca­la­tion “to evade obli­ga­tions” of a com­pre­hen­sive cease­fire that Ha­mas has long sought. Ha­mas wants the deal to end a crip­pling Is­raeli-Egyp­tian block­ade on Gaza.

There has been no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Is- rael on truce. It has said its fighter jets struck dozens of tar­gets across Gaza and ac­cused Ira­nian forces in Da­m­as­cus of or­ches­trat­ing the bar­rages.

The threats to­ward Ira­nian forces in Syria added a new di­men­sion to what was al­ready the heav­i­est fight­ing be­tween Is­rael and Gaza mil­i­tants in sev­eral weeks.

Open­ing a new front in Syria could put Is­rael in open con­fronta­tion with heav­ily armed Ira­nian and Hezbol­lah forces, along with re­cently de­ployed Rus­sian anti-air­craft sys­tems.

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