Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

Israel says it has completed a series of airstrikes on targets linked to the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, after rocket fire that rattled a day-old truce.

The military statement indicated that Israel was willing to abide by the ceasefire if there are no additional rocket attacks.

It said Israel struck a military compound, a rocket-manufacturing site and the headquarters of a militant group in the town of Khan Younis.

Palestinian mourners carry out the bodies of Rasmi Abu Malhous and seven members of his family who were killed in overnight Israeli missile strikes (Khalil Hamra/AP)
Palestinian mourners carry out the bodies of Rasmi Abu Malhous and seven members of his family who were killed in overnight Israeli missile strikes (Khalil Hamra/AP)

The airstrikes came after a barrage of rockets late Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

The situation was calm on Friday, but the truce could be tested later in the day when Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, holds its weekly demonstrations along the frontier.

Hamas stayed out of the most recent fighting as both it and Israel appeared keen to limit its scope.

The unofficial ceasefire that began early Thursday ended a two-day escalation triggered by Israel’s targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander.

The fighting killed 34 Palestinians, including 16 civilians.

Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets toward Israel, paralysing much of southern Israel without causing any deaths or serious injuries.

A Palestinian girl looks at the rubble of a destroyed house following overnight Israeli missile strikes (Khalil Hamra/AP)
A Palestinian girl looks at the rubble of a destroyed house following overnight Israeli missile strikes (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Islamic Jihad announced the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, claiming it had extracted several concessions from Israel.

Israel does not generally comment on informal understandings with militant groups and said only that it would halt fire as long as the militants did the same.

The truce angered many Islamic Jihad supporters, who held protests across Gaza.

A barrage of rockets fired into Israel late Thursday, which Israel said were intercepted by its missile defences, may have been an expression of discontent with the militant group’s leadership.

Unlike in previous rounds of violence, the more powerful Hamas stayed on the sidelines, adhering to understandings reached through Egyptian mediators after previous rounds of fighting with Israel.

Both militant groups are committed to Israel’s destruction, but Islamic Jihad is seen as more radical and has closer ties to Iran.

Hamas was set to hold weekly demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence later on Friday.

The often violent protests have been restrained in recent weeks as part of the understandings reached through Egypt, and it was unclear how many protesters would turn out amid the latest tensions.

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