JERUSALEM – Palestinian militants bombarded southern Israel on Tuesday with dozens of rockets and mortar shells, while Israeli warplanes hit targets across most of the Gaza Strip in most violence between sides since the war in 2014
The Israeli military Most of the projectiles were but three soldiers were injured, increasing the chances of further Israeli retaliation. A mortar shell landed shortly before the opening near a kindergarten.
The sudden outburst of violence that extended after midnight with no signs of slowing follows mass protests by the Palestinians on the border with Israel for weeks. More than 1
"Israel will demand a high price from those who want to harm it, and we consider Hamas responsible for preventing such attacks," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 19659005] Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought three wars since the Islamic group took control of Gaza in 2007.
The last war in 2014 was particularly devastating: over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians and inflicted great damage in 50 days of infighting on the infrastructure of Gaza. Seventy-two people were killed on the Israeli side.
The violence of Tuesday had a striking resemblance to the progress of past wars. In the early morning, Palestinian militants fired over two dozen mortar shells into southern Israel, including the grenade that landed near the kindergarten.
The Israeli military confirmed more than 60 air strikes across Gaza, including an unfinished tunnel near the southern city of Rafah, under the Egyptian border and thence into Israeli territory. It said that other targets included "Dandruff Shed", a rocket manufacturing workshop, naval weapons, military and training facilities, and an ammunition factory. No Palestinian losses were reported.
Palestinian militants continued to fire additional dams against southern Israel and set fire to air raid sirens throughout the night.
Brig. General Ronen Manelis, the head of the military, threatened with tougher action and said it was up to Hamas to prevent the situation escalating.
"These strikes will continue to intensify if this fire continues," he told reporters
Hamas and the smaller militant Islamic Jihad issued a joint statement Tuesday in which they shared responsibility for firing rockets and missiles Projectiles against Israeli communities near Gaza demanded
They said Israel started this round of escalation through targeted attacks their installations in the last two days, killing four fighters. It was the first time that Hamas's armed wing took responsibility for rocket attacks from Gaza since the 2014 war.
A spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Daoud Shehab, claimed that Egypt had negotiated a ceasefire at midnight. But more than an hour after the deadline, rocket fire and Israeli air strikes continued. Shehab said some militants rejected the truce and continued to launch rockets. There was no Israeli commentary on the alleged ceasefire plan.
Hamas was severely weakened by the three wars with Israel and a crushing Israeli-Egyptian blockade that had brought the local economy to a standstill.
Hamas initially planned the weekly border protests as a call to break the fence and return to homes lost 70 years ago during the war over the Israeli establishment.
But the protests seem to be fueled mainly by a desire to ease the blockade. Gaza's unemployment rate is approaching 50 percent, and the area suffers from chronic blackouts.
With limited opportunities and a failure of the protests to significantly reduce the blockade, Hamas seems to be playing this limited rocket fire could somehow shake the situation.
Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said that "the resistance has been able to violate the occupation and has proven it today by responding to his crime."
Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from expanding its military capabilities.
On Tuesday, two fishing boats with students and medical patients from the port of Gaza set sail to reach Cyprus and break the Israeli blockade that has limited most activities along the coast. Hamas acknowledged that it was mainly a symbolic act.
One of the boats turned around quickly while the Israeli navy intercepted the second ship after venturing beyond a ten-kilometer border imposed by Israel. The Israeli military said the boat had been intercepted without incident the Israeli port of Ashdod was brought and the 17 people on board were sent back to Gaza.
In the south of Israel, angry residents complained about the renewed rocket fire.
Adva Klein from Kibbutz Kfar Aza said she only got about two hours sleep because of the frequent incoming fire and alarm sirens. Other residents reported machine gun fire from Gaza.
"It was a really scary morning," said Adele Raemer from Kibbutz Nirim.
The regional councils near the Gaza border told residents to stay near air raid bunkers. The high Palestinian toll of blood on the border protests has led to fierce international criticism of Israel, with human rights groups saying that Israel's use of live fire is illegal because in many cases it has struck unarmed protesters who posed no immediate threat to Israeli soldiers  But On Tuesday, the Palestinians were criticized.
The US condemned the attacks from Gaza and called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Security Council must "be outraged and react"
Federica Mogherini, the foreign affairs chief of the European Union, called for an immediate stop to the rocket and mortar fire.
"Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are in no way wholly unacceptable," she said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it has instructed embassies around the world to seek similar condemnations of the Palestinian fire.
Israel has Rejecting criticism of his reaction to the protests Defending its border and surrounding communities, it accuses Hamas of attempting to carry out attacks and using civilian demonstrators as human shields under the guise of protests.
Hamas has promised that
Associated Press, writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or reprinted