Israel launches air raids on the Gaza Strip | Israel

Israel launched air strikes in the central Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, according to journalists and witnesses, hours after the army said it had intercepted a rocket fired from Palestinian territory.

New rounds of missiles were fired Gaza After these strikes, new explosions were heard from Gaza City at around 3:15 am local time, according to AFP journalists.

The Israeli army confirmed in a statement issued at 2:41 am that it had “bombed the Gaza Strip”.

According to local security sources and eyewitnesses, the first strikes – no less than seven – hit a training center of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. The center is located in Maghazi refugee camp, in the center of the Gaza Strip.

A second round of air strikes by the Israeli army targeted the Al-Qassam Brigades training center southwest of Gaza City, according to local security sources.

After the first air strike, an AFP correspondent saw two more rockets being fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, and eyewitnesses said several more rockets were fired from different locations.

A statement by the Israeli army said that fighter jets “bombed a site for the production, preservation and storage of raw chemical materials, as well as a site for the manufacture of weapons” belonging to the Hamas movement.

The strikes came “in response to the firing of a rocket from the Gaza Strip at Israel earlier” on Wednesday.

Smoke billows over buildings in Gaza City early Thursday morning
Smoke billows over buildings in Gaza City early Thursday morning. Photo: Mohamed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Gaza, densely populated with a population of 2.3 million, has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular Palestinian militant group, said it fired rocket-propelled grenades into Israel early Thursday in response to the airstrikes and “systematic aggression” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel’s worrying National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who oversees the prisons, said he would press ahead with his plans to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

He claimed that the recent bout of rocket fire was due to his decision to close two makeshift bakeries run by Palestinian militants in Israeli prisons, describing the bakeries as part of the unjustified “benefits” to which “terrorists” are exposed.

“The release from Gaza will not weaken my resolve to continue working to change the conditions of the summer camp for murderous terrorists,” said the minister.

The Israel Prisons Service said the trouble began last Friday when it placed dozens of Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement after they celebrated a bloody Palestinian attack outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem.

Earlier this week, the US Secretary of State said, Anthony Blinkenfinished his tour in the Middle East with No breakthrough in reducing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, saying it was “fundamentally up to them” to end the violence after days of bloodshed.

Blinken said he heard a “deep concern about the current trajectory” during the meetings at Israel and the occupied West Bank, but other than calling for a “de-escalation,” he did not present any new American initiative.

An Israeli operation in Jenin camp last week is one of its operations The bloodiest raids in the West Bank in decades, 10 Palestinians were killed, most of them armed but also two civilians, including a 61-year-old woman. The next day, a Palestinian gunman Seven Israelis were killed outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem in the worst attack of its kind in recent memory.

Nearly two dozen people have been killed over the past week as rising tensions lead to revenge attacks, including shootings, targeting Israelis and Palestinians.

AFP, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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