Middle East

Gaza death toll rises as Israeli-Palestinian violence spirals

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Israeli air and missile strikes killed six Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday as the violence spiraled, with Palestinians firing hundreds of rockets into Israel following Tuesdays assassination of a top Islamic Jihad commander.


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Four Palestinians were killed in new Israeli air and missile strikes on Gaza on Wednesday, the territory's health ministry said, taking the day's death toll to six.

Israel launched deadly strikes against commanders of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad early Tuesday triggering a wave of tit-for-tat rocket salvos and air strikes that have killed 16 Palestinians in two days.

The Israeli military said more than 250 rockets have been fired at Israeli communities since the latest violence erupted.

Schools remained closed in Israeli communities near the Gaza border and restrictions on public gatherings continued as rockets rained down — albeit in lesser ferocity than during the relentless barrage the previous day. Those attacks came after the early morning strike that killed Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife as they were sleeping.

Rocket fire from Gaza reached as far north as Tel Aviv, and two people were wounded by debris. No deaths were caused by the Palestinian militant rockets, mostly thanks to Israels Iron Dome defense system, which the military said intercepted some 90% of the projectiles.

In a sign that the current round of violence could be brief, Gazas Hamas rulers have yet to enter the fray. Although larger and more powerful than the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, Hamas is also more pragmatic. With Gazas economy in tatters, it appears to have little desire for another round of fighting with Israel.

Egypt, which frequently mediates between Israel and Gaza militants, has been working to de-escalate tensions, according to officials in Cairo.

Seeking to keep the outburst under control, the Israeli military has restricted its operations to Islamic Jihad, and nearly all the Gaza casualties so far are members of the militant group.

Surge in open warfare

Tuesdays pre-dawn Israeli strike came almost simultaneously as another strike attributed to Israel, which targeted a senior Islamic Jihad commander based in Syria. The strikes appeared to be a new surge in the open warfare between Israel and Iranian proxies in the region.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israels northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also claimed that Iran is using Iraq and far-off Yemen, where Tehran supports Shiite Houthi rebels at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to plan attacks against Israel. Hamas also receives some support from Iran.

Israel frequently strikes Iranian interests in Syria but Tuesdays attack in Damascus appeared to be a rare assassination attempt of a Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital.

Despite the disruption it has caused to daily Read More – Source

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