Gaza (QNN) – The Israeli military pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery on Saturday as scores of rockets were fired towards Israel from the coastal enclave.
A Gaza health ministry spokesman said one Palestinian was killed in an air strike that hit Beit Hanoun. Seven more have been wounded.
Ashraf al-Qedra said that Emad Mohammed Nsair, 22, was killed in the last Israeli air strike to hit the town of Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza.
Local media are reporting that a 50-year-old Israeli woman is seriously wounded following a rocket attack on a high school in Kiryat Gat, near the port city of Ashkelon.
In a joint statement, the Palestinian factions in the enclave said: “We have launched 150 rockets at the Israeli neighbourhoods and military sites near the Gaza Strip in response to the continuous Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip.”
The violence has broken a fragile ceasefire under which Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, were negotiating a truce agreement that the Palestinian movement hoped would see Israeli restrictions on the enclave lifted.
“The Israeli occupation must commit to terms of understanding in the ceasefire deal,” Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’ politburo, said.
A senior Hamas military source told Middle East Eye the Palestinians are likely to escalate the flare-up.
Rockets have reached as far as Bet Shemesh, a town 30km from Jerusalem.
“Dozens” of rockets were intercepted by air defences, the Israeli army said. The military said it had targeted two rocket launchers in Gaza with an air strike in response.
A Gaza security source told the AFP news agency that three “resistance fighters” had been wounded in the strikes.
A source in Gaza told Middle East Eye Israeli forces had fired smoke bombs east of Gaza City and a drone had fired a missile at military site.
Israeli artillery struck on watchtowers east of al-Tuffah neighbourhood north of Gaza City and on a watchtower and a military site in the Sofa area between Rafah and Khan Younis in the Strip’s south.
Meanwhile, Israeli helicopters struck targets on Hill 86 east of Khan Younis.
Gaza’s Deputy Education Minister Ziyad Thabet said: “We ordered schools near the dangerous points to evacuate students.”
Islamic Jihad, a militant group closely aligned with the ruling Hamas movement, said in a statement: “We will turn the life of Israeli settlers in the Gaza peripheries hell-like.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he was consulting security chiefs in response to the escalating violence.
The escalation came after Friday saw some of the most violent protests along the Gaza border in recent weeks.
Four Palestinians, including two Hamas fighters, were killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip on Friday after two Israeli soldiers were reportedly wounded in a shooting during weekly protests on the border.
Among those wounded was a Palestinian journalist who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Safinaz Allouh was covering the ongoing Great March of Return campaign along the Gaza-Israel border fence when she was shot.
East of Gaza’s Khan Younis, a teenager identified as Raed Khalil Abu Tair was shot in the abdomen and later died from his wounds, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Palestinians have been marching for more than a year in support of the right to return to homes they were driven from during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The initiative began in March 2018 after a call from local civil society urged local Palestinians to engage in a mass march towards the Gaza fence in opposition to Israel’s ongoing siege on Gaza.
The Gaza health ministry noted that since protests began, at least 272 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces.