At Least 3 Palestinian Killed in Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza Strip
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - At least three Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, according to health officials, in the latest escalation less than 24 hours after a deadly covert Israeli operation in the besieged enclave.
The air raids on Monday followed a barrage of rocket fire from the Strip into Israel earlier in the day.
Israel said its Iron Dome system intercepted many of the more than 100 missiles fired from the Palestinians. One, however, hit a bus and another struck a building in southern Israel.
Along with the air raids, Israeli artillery units also shelled positions across the enclave, Al Jazeera reported.
The rising tensions came as thousands of people took part in rallies in the enclave following the killing of seven Palestinians - including Nour Baraka, a prominent commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas - in the secret Israeli military raid on Sunday evening.
One Israeli lieutenant colonel was also killed and another one was seriously injured in the attack.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya led a funeral for Palestinians killed on Sunday as mourners called for revenge.
Later, Palestinian factions said in a joint statement that they had begun firing rockets into Israel in response to the Israeli military incursion.
According to Hamas, Israeli undercover forces on Sunday entered the territory in a civilian car and exchanged fire with Hamas gunmen near the city of Khan Younis. A pursuit ensued and witnesses said Israeli aircraft fired dozens of missiles into the area to provide cover for the commandos to escape.
In the immediate aftermath of the raid, several rockets were fired from Gaza as the Israeli forces carried out air raids.
Israel's army provided few details about the reason for the covert operation. A military spokesperson claimed the operation was "not intended to kill" Hamas commanders, adding the forces faced a "very complex battle".
The escalation comes in a period where both Hamas and Israel seemed to have moved closer to a truce, mediated by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar.
Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests dubbed “The Great March of Return.”
The Palestinian protesters have been demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israeli wars and other acts of aggression since 1948.
The clashes in Gaza reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, which coincided this year with Washington’s relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, Press TV reported.
Israeli fire has taken the lives of nearly 240 Palestinians since late March 30. More than 19,000 Palestinians have also been wounded.