Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza after rocket fire News from Gaza

Palestinian media reported that Israeli strikes fell on agricultural land in Gaza, but the Israeli military said it was aimed at Hamas sites.

Israel has launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip after rocket fire from a Palestinian enclave aimed at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, after months of relative calm in the region.

Palestinian media reported that Israeli strikes fell on agricultural land in Gaza on Saturday, but the Israeli army said it was targeting military sites belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian group that runs the enclave.

“In response to the missile attack, Israeli defense forces struck a number of Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

There are no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza or Israel. There was no immediate response from Hamas, no responsibility from any of the other groups in the enclave.

The airstrike comes a day after Israel launched military attacks on Jenin in the occupied West Bank, where three Palestinians were killed and 10 wounded. Also Friday, an Israeli observation balloon crashed and fell in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa cited the names of those killed in Jenin Baraa Lahluh, 24, Yusuf Salah, 23, and Light Abu Surur, 24.

Hamas said one of those killed was among its members, while another group, which draws from members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad faction, said the dead were their own.

The last cross-border missiles were in April, when Israeli warplanes an attack began in the Gaza Strip, aimed at what the military says is a Hamas-owned weapons facility.

Although Saturday’s cross-border fire does not appear to signal a wider escalation, violence has intensified in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year, many in attacks. A series of Palestinian attacks since March have killed 19 people in Israel.

Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces last month in Jenin, while she was covering an Israeli army operation. She was wearing a bulletproof vest that said “PRESS” when she was shot.

In May 2021 Israel launched an 11-day attack in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israeli air and artillery attacks killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900. Two children are among 12 people killed in Israel by rockets fired by Hamas and other armed groups from Gaza during the same period.

US-mediated peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza collapsed in 2014 and there are no signs of a resurgence.

US President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit to the region in July.

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