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Palestinian militants fire rockets, Israel hits Gaza



GAZA / JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel hit dozens of targets in Gaza on Saturday, the Israeli military said, and Palestinian militants have been firing their heaviest missile volleys across the border since August.

An explosion is observed during Israeli air strikes in Gaza on October 27, 201

8. REUTERS / Ahmed Zakot

Neither Israel nor Gaza has reported any casualties controlled by the Islamist Hamas group.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the other armed groups operating in Gaza, said in a statement that it fired the missiles in response to Israel's killing of four Palestinian demonstrators on Friday near the border.

"The Islamic Jihad will maintain a ceasefire as long as the enemy holds on to it, and should the bombing and aggression continue, the resistance will react," the group said.

The Israeli military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, accused Syria and Iran of involvement in the attack.

"Commands and incentives were given by Damascus with a clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds forces," Conricus told reporters. "Our reaction is not geographically limited."

Israel regularly accuses Iran of helping Gaza militants, but rarely leases the charges in connection with a specific rocket attack.

Islamic Jihad had no immediate comment.

The Israeli military also said Hamas was responsible for the events in Gaza. It said its air force hit more than 80 targets, including a four-story building used by Hamas as its headquarters in response to more than 30 missiles launched in Israel. There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

In Israel, warning sirens were sent to communities near the Gaza border, sending residents from air raid bunkers. Some missiles were intercepted.

In Gaza, where militants usually evict potential targets when violence flares up, explosions illuminate the night sky.

The flare started after the four Palestinians were killed on Friday during weekly protests along the Israeli border. Israel said its forces had been attacked with explosive devices and that some demonstrators had broken through the border.

Palestinians have been protesting at the border since March 30, calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of the territory and the right to return to areas they fled or were expelled from Israel when Israel was founded in 1948.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 213 Gazans were killed during the protests by Israeli forces. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Egyptian security officials have spoken separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restore calm to the border.

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About two million Palestinians are being pushed into the Gaza Strip, which is in a deep economic crisis. Israel says that for security reasons it maintains a naval blockade and strict control of its land crossings with the enclave.

Israel has beaten dozens of times in Syria during the seven-year civil war, supporting Iranian targets or Tehran's arms deliveries to Hezbollah militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare visit to Oman on Friday. Israel and some Gulf states are interested in containing Iran's influence in the region.

Letter from Maayan Lubell; Edited by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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