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Israeli warplanes attack Gaza after reports of rocket fire

Gaza has been mostly quiet since Israel’s three-day offensive in August, but developments in the West Bank have sparked tensions.

Gaza City – Israeli warplanes launched several airstrikes in the blockaded Gaza Strip, leading to a power outage in some areas, according to local sources.

Among the main targets of Friday’s strikes were sites used by Palestinian armed resistance factions in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, said Hamas, the group that runs the territory.

An Israeli army spokesman said warplanes had targeted a Hamas site in the central Gaza Strip, saying the attack came in response to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, the first rockets launched since the military offensive. of three days of Israel in the territory.

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Earlier in the evening, four rockets were fired from Gaza, three of which did not reach Israeli territory, while one rocket was intercepted by air defense systems, the Israeli military said.

No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

“Israeli’s barbaric shelling of the Gaza Strip at dawn today is a blatant act of aggression and represents an extension of its open war against our people everywhere we exist,” said Hazem Qasem, a Hamas spokesman.

“Israeli bombing will only make the Palestinians more determined to resist the occupation and increase their support for Jerusalem and its people,” Qasem added.

Israeli reports said the rocket fire from Gaza was in response to the killing by the Israeli army on Thursday of Islamic Jihad member Farouk Salameh in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

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The exchanges come after nearly a month of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank that has intensified amid almost daily Israeli raids, particularly in Nablus and Jenin.

Salameh was one of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Thursday in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

The violence erupted as Benjamin Netanyahu emerged victorious in Israel’s parliamentary elections, held earlier this week.

Gaza has been largely quiet since the fighting in August, which began when Israel launched airstrikes in what it said were preemptive strikes against the Islamic Jihad group.

Since the beginning of this year, at least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 51 Palestinians killed during Israel’s three-day assault on Gaza in August, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. .

Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have fought four wars and engaged in several minor skirmishes over the past 15 years.

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Israel and Egypt have maintained a strict blockade on Gaza for 14 years, and critics have said the policy amounts to collective punishment of the two million Palestinian residents of the region.

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