Palestinian rocket fire hits Israel, UN urges more Gaza fuel

Erika Holt
August 9, 2018

The strikes came after two rockets launched from the coastal enclave hit the town of Sderot, near Gaza's northern border, police and the army said.

Gaza health ministry said two of the victims were a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child, another victim was a Palestinian man.

"As of now, approximately 70 rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory".

Earlier on Wednesday, air raid sirens warning of incoming rocket fire sent Israeli residents of communities along the tense Gaza border scrambling for shelter before the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) determined them to have been a false alarm.

Israeli television broadcast images of damage to homes and cars in the town of Sderot.

There are also reports that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has carried out drone strike on multiple locations in Gaza, but this is unconfirmed.

Israeli forces said in a statement about 150 rockets were fired from Gaza and at least 25 had been intercepted.

On Wednesday, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the Hamas rocket fire and called for both sides to step away from the brink.

Smoke plumes could be seen rising from Gaza City following the military's announcement it was targeting "terror sites in the Gaza Strip".

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The nearly daily airborne arson attacks have been part of months of weekly border protests led by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after it took control of the territory in 2007.

Gaza's Health Ministry said three Palestinians were slightly injured in the strikes.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a news release called Israel's restriction of fuel imports "a risky practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza".

Palestinian reports said the two were killed when IDF artillery struck a graduation ceremony of al-Qassam members at a Hamas base Askelan, northern Gaza, where senior Hamas figures were in attendance.

Hamas warned Israel it would pay for Tuesday's attack.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli army shelled a Hamas military position in Gaza in retaliation for an alleged attack from the Palestinian side that targeted its heavy equipment on the Gaza-Israeli border.

However, fighting between Israel and Hamas continue despite the ceasefire talks.

The escalation comes after the Hamas leadership convened for a rare meeting in Gaza on Friday.

The Hamas official reportedly said the truce agreement will begin with a two-week cease-fire trial period beginning in late August in accordance with ongoing talks mediated by Egypt. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

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