Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza after rocket attacks as violence escalates



Israel launched airstrikes targeting alleged weapons manufacturing and storage sites in Gaza on Thursday following rocket attacks from the coastal enclave, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

In a statement, the IDF said “warplanes struck a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza” owned by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza.

“In parallel, a military compound belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the northern Gaza Strip, which was also used as a naval weapons storage warehouse, was attacked,” the statement said.

Earlier on Thursday, the IDF said five rockets fired from Gaza toward Israeli territory, including the cities of Ashkelon and Sderot, were intercepted and another rocket landed in an open area.

The airstrikes came after at least 11 Palestinians were killed Wednesday in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, during a raid by the Israeli army that left at least 500 wounded, Palestinian officials said on Thursday. said on Thursday. The two militant groups had earlier said that one of the dead targeted in the Nablus raid was a member of Hamas and two were Islamic Jihad commanders.

“Our teams dealt with 488 casualties during the offensive by the occupation forces in Nablus, including 103 live gunshot wounds, who were taken to hospitals in Nablus,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said. . Other injuries include tear gas inhalation and shrapnel wounds, he said. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the numbers.

The raid in Nablus lasted about four hours and, unusually, took place in broad daylight because the IDF said it had intelligence on where the suspects were. The IDF accused them of being responsible for the death of an Israeli soldier and of imminent danger.

A Palestinian man, pictured Thursday, stands inside a house that was demolished during an Israeli military raid in Nablus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that Israel would “bring account with those who attacked Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers,” praising the previous day’s Israeli military offensive in Nablus.

Netanyahu said the raid targeted “three terrorists” who “shot and killed Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch last October and were going to carry out more attacks against us.”

“I want to commend the ISA and IDF Intelligence for accurate intelligence,” the Israeli prime minister said, referring to the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Defense Forces, which conducted the raid. He also thanked the “soldiers who acted bravely and confidently under fire.”

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said late on Wednesday that he was “saddened by the loss of civilian life” in the raid.

“I am deeply disturbed by the continuing cycle of violence,” Tor Weinsland said in a statement. “I urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further inflame an already volatile situation.”

A Palestinian confronts an Israeli military vehicle during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus on February 22, 2023.

The occupied West Bank has been rocked by a series of deadly Israeli military attacks over the past year, as tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories remain sky high in the blood-soaked region.

An Israeli raid in the city of Jenin in January led to the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in more than a year, according to CNN records, killing at least 10 Palestinians that day and one dying of his wounds. A day later, at least seven civilians were killed in a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem – in what Israel described as one of its worst terror attacks in recent years.

It comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads a cabinet that has been described as the most right-wing and religious in the country’s history.

Netanyahu previously told CNN’s Jake Tapper that people could be “stuck” on peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he has opted for a different approach.

As relations between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants boil over, CNN’s Hadas Gold said Wednesday’s scenes represent the likes of “not seen since the second intifada,” or uprising.

“For the last year and a half or so, it’s been a very violent and deadly year, the numbers are some of the highest I’ve seen in my time here,” he added.

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