Israeli regime warplanes have conducted fresh airstrikes ‘throughout’ the besieged Gaza Strip, martyring three people, shortly after the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement fired an intense barrage of retaliatory rockets against the Israeli-occupied territories, triggering air sirens across southern settlements.
Israeli military said in a statement that its fighter jets had carried out airstrikes “throughout the Gaza Strip” on Monday afternoon, claiming that the aerial aggression was aimed at “terror targets” in the impoverished enclave.
The Israeli military claimed in a statement that the aerial aggression was in response to some 80 rockets and mortar shells fired against the southern parts of the occupied territories minutes earlier, wounding at least 19 Israeli settlers, one in critical condition. Gaza’s retaliatory rockets also hit a bus carrying Israeli forces, killing one of them and injuring several.
It added that Israeli regime’s so-called Iron Dome managed to intercept several of the inbound projectiles.
Rocket sirens sounded throughout southern Israeli settlements, including in Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Sderot. The sirens prompted thousands of settlers to rush for bomb shelters.
The Gaza Health Ministry, in a brief statement, said that at least three people lost their lives in the Israeli strikes, identifying two of them as Mohammed Zakaria Ismail al-Titri, 27, and Mohammad Zuhdi Hassan Ouda, 22. It also said that six other Gazans were wounded in the raids.
In a statement, Hamas claimed responsibility for the massive barrage of rockets and projectiles fired into southern parts of the occupied territories, near the so-called border fence separating them from the Gaza Strip.
“The joint command of Palestinian factions announces the beginning of bombardments of the enemy’s settlements with scores of rockets,” said the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
The flare-up came just a day after Israeli special forces infiltrated the Gaza Strip, assassinating a top Hamas commander, while subsequent Israeli airstrikes martyred six others, including another commander with the Palestinian resistance movement. Reports also said that an Israeli officer was also killed during the ensuing clashes.
A firefight erupted afterwards, with Israeli aircraft firing from above “to cover the retreat of this force, and in the process some of our people were killed,” a Hamas statement said. Local witnesses said the aircraft fired over 20 missiles during the strikes.
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 al-Quds.
Israeli fire has taken the lives of nearly 240 Palestinians since late March 30. More than 19,000 Palestinians have also been wounded.
On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning the regime of Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.
The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
It also called for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by the Israeli regime on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.