Is­rael re­tal­i­ates for rocket fire from Gaza

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - News - BY RUTH EGLASH AND HAZEM BALOUSHA

Is­rael re­sponded with airstrikes Satur­day to a salvo of rock­ets fired by mil­i­tants from the Gaza Strip into its ter­ri­tory overnight, say­ing it held Gaza’s rulers, Ha­mas, re­spon­si­ble for the flare-up and that it had ev­i­dence that Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards’ al-Quds force was be­hind the lat­est es­ca­la­tion.

Is­raeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Con­ri­cus said jets had struck more than 80 tar­gets across the Pales­tinian en­clave, in­clud­ing com­mand posts, weapons man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties and a four-story build­ing hous­ing Ha­mas’ gen­eral se­cu­rity agency.

“We hold Ha­mas re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­thing com­ing from Gaza,” Con­ri­cus said. “All vi­o­lence and provo­ca­tions are Ha­mas’ re­spon­si­bil­ity. The hu­man­i­tar­ian im­prove­ments made re­cently should have caused Ha­mas to rein in the ter­ror, but it al­lows a vi­o­lent at­mos­phere to con­tinue.”

It has been Is­rael’s long­stand­ing pol­icy to hold Ha­mas, the mil­i­tant Is­lamist group that rules Gaza and is viewed as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Is­rael and the United States, re­spon­si­ble for each round of vi­o­lence, even if other Gaza-based fac­tions claim re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tacks.

Con­ri­cus said the army was aware Pales­tinian Is­lamic Ji­had, Gaza’s sec­ond largest mil­i­tant group, was be­hind the lat­est round of rock­ets. He said the group was work­ing “un­der guid­ance, in­struc­tion and in­cen­tives from Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, Quds force, based in Da­m­as­cus.”

The army later said eight of the tar­gets it struck be­longed to the group.

Is­lamic Ji­had im­me­di­ately took re­spon­si­bil­ity for fir­ing the rock­ets, say­ing it was in re­sponse to the “con­tin­u­ing cold­blooded killing by the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion and the con­tin­ued shed­ding of the blood of peace­ful civil­ians.” On Satur­day morn­ing, the group is­sued an ad­di­tional state­ment an­nounc­ing a cease­fire.

Ear­lier Fri­day, Ha­mas’ Health Min­istry in Gaza said Is­raeli forces killed six Pales­tini­ans in­volved in the on­go­ing protests at the bor­der fence.

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