The Gold Coast Bulletin

Rockets a prelude to ‘full-scale war’

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TEL AVIV: Palestinia­n militants and the Israeli army have exchanged a barrage of deadly fire, with UN envoy for Middle East Peace Tor Wennesland warning the two sides were heading “towards a full-scale war”.

Israeli police reported two people had been killed after Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they launched more than 300 rockets into Israel in retaliatio­n for attacks on buildings and civilians.

In response, Israel defence forces said they had launched their largest strike across the Strip since the 2014 Gaza conflict, including targeting the homes of senior Hamas figures.

The heaviest fire in years between the foes has been triggered by violence in Jerusalem, and has killed at least 35 Palestinia­ns in the blockaded Gaza Strip and five people in Israel, as well as wounding hundreds more.

In the crowded, Israeliblo­ckaded enclave of Gaza that Hamas controls, 12 children and one woman were among those killed since Monday night. A further 230 people were reported wounded from the ongoing Israeli air strikes, many rescued from the smoulderin­g ruins of buildings.

Earlier, Defence Minister Benny Gantz warned “this is just the beginning” of Israel’s strikes. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed in turn that “if Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it”.

In Israel, sirens sounded as Hamas rockets rained down, and some of those unable to make it to undergroun­d shelters took cover under bridges.

The rocket fire forced Israel to suspend flights at its main airport of Ben Gurion, near Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod, which borders the airport, as police said “widescale riots erupted by some of the Arab residents”.

Reinforcem­ents were sent to the area after clashes broke out the night after an Israeli Arab was killed in the city.

In the occupied West Bank, a Palestinia­n was killed in clashes with the Israeli army on Wednesday, according to the Palestinia­n health ministry.

In Gaza, people sifted through debris after an Israeli air strike destroyed a 12-storey building.

Hamas, which controls the Palestinia­n territory, said the tower block had been a residentia­l building. AFP reporters said it also housed the offices of Hamas officials.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group confirmed they had commanders who had died in the Israeli strikes.

Diplomatic sources told AFP that Egypt and Qatar, who have mediated past Israeli-Hamas conflicts, were attempting to calm tensions, but Egypt said “we did not get the necessary response”.

 ??  ?? Burntout cars in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv, after rockets slammed into the area. Picture: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP
Burntout cars in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv, after rockets slammed into the area. Picture: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

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