Three mortars struck southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the Israeli military said, just hours after a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire took effect. Hamas denied any involvement in the attack.
The mortars landed in open areas, causing no injuries or damage, the military said, and there were no reports of Israeli retaliation.
Hamas denied responsibility for the attack.
"Whenever the Palestinian factions say that we are not going to do anything, they don't," said Ihab Ghussein, the media office chief for the former Hamas government in Gaza.
Israel’s military had earlier said it would suspend operations against Gaza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (7 a.m. to 12 p.m. GMT) for humanitarian reasons. Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls much of the Gaza Strip, had agreed to follow suit.
Israel repels gunmen tunneling in from Gaza
Just a few hours before the start of a brief ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas, the Israeli military said on Thursday that it had repelled an attack by at least a dozen Palestinian gunmen who had tunnelled into Israel from Gaza.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the militants were identified some 250 meters (820 feet) inside Israel and were hit by an Israeli air strike.
Lerner said the military believed at least one gunman was killed. He said the remaining fighters appeared to have returned to Gaza through the tunnel.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
In the hours leading up to the ceasefire, Israel continued to strike at positions within Gaza, while the military said that militants fired 82 rockets across the border, 30 of which were intercepted by Israel’s missile defence system, "Iron Dome".
Israel first launched its operations against Gaza on July 8 in an effort to halt rocket attacks coming out of the Palestinian enclave.
At least 220 people have been killed by Israeli strikes since the conflict began, according to Palestinian health officials, while another 1,670 have been wounded. One Israeli has been killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
Children killed in Israeli air strikes
On Wednesday, FRANCE 24’s Gaza correspondent Gallagher Fenwick, along with several other journalists, witnessed an Israeli air strike hit a beach off a coastal road west of Gaza City, killing four Palestinian children as they played together.
In a firsthand account of the deadly strike, Fenwick said, “a first shelling struck right in front of our eyes, hitting a structure on the pier, close to the hotels where a majority of the international media is based”.
The four boys – Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both aged 10; Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 9, and Ismail Mohamed Bakr – were all cousins, said Ashraf al-Qudra, a Palestinian doctor.
Seven others – adults and children – were also said to have been wounded in the strikes.
The Israeli military said the reported civilian casualties were unintended and “tragic” and it was investigating what happened. “Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives,” it said in a statement.
The four bodies of the children were later taken to Abu Hasira mosque, near where the boys had died.The boys were laid out, wrapped in the yellow flags of the Fatah party – the Palestinian rival to the Hamas movement – in front of mourners.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-17