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Middle East conflict: Rockets from Gaza and Israeli counterattack

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A raid by the Israeli military escalates – eleven Palestinians are killed. A few minutes later, rockets fly from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. The answer is not long in coming.

Violence in the Middle East has escalated again after a deadly raid in the West Bank. After a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force attacked several targets in the Palestinian Territory during the night.

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A day earlier, an Israeli military operation in the Palestinian city of Nablus had escalated. Eleven Palestinians were killed and more than 100 injured, according to Palestinian sources.

According to the army, a weapons factory and a military site belonging to the radical Islamist Hamas, which rules there, were destroyed during the Israeli attack at night in the Gaza Strip. According to reports from the Gaza Strip, no one was injured. Columns of smoke rose from the two military posts. Several houses in the vicinity were slightly damaged.

A few hours earlier, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired six rockets at Israel. Five rockets were intercepted and one rocket fell into an open area, the Israeli army said. Initially, no Palestinian group officially claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas threat: “Patience is at an end”

A Hamas spokesman said the “armed resistance groups in Gaza are the shield and sword” of the Palestinian people. “Your patience is at an end.” The militant Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad said the attacks were a warning to the Israeli government to stop its aggression “otherwise the situation will explode and escalate further.”

According to Israeli sources, the aim of the deadliest military operation in years in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was the arrest of three terrorist suspects. There were violent confrontations with armed Palestinians. The forces came under fire and responded with shots. The firefight lasted about four hours in total. According to Palestinian sources, a 72-year-old and a 16-year-old were among the dead.

A general strike was called in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Thursday because of the raid. According to the authorities, schools, universities, shops, banks and local public transport are affected. Israeli police said they were on high alert.

No relief in sight

The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has long been extremely tense. Ten Israelis and one Ukrainian have been killed in connection with Palestinian attacks since the beginning of the year. In the same period, 61 Palestinians lost their lives – they were shot in confrontations with the Israeli army or after their own attacks. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at no time since 2000 have so many Palestinians been killed in the first two months of a year.

The situation had already escalated after a deadly raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin a few weeks ago. Ten Palestinians were killed, including at least one civilian. Just one day later, a Palestinian assassin shot dead eight people at a synagogue in East Jerusalem – it was the deadliest attack since 2008.

Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.

Source: Stern

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