Botched Israeli Army operation in Gaza triggers sharp escalation in violence

Botched Israeli Army operation in Gaza triggers sharp escalation in violence

Late on Sunday, Palestinians fired 17 rockets into southern Israel in response to the Israeli incursion and air strikes, which Hamas, the dominant Palestinian armed force in the Gaza Strip, said were meant to cover the retreat of a vehicle used by the Israeli troops.

Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the course of some 24 hours as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings while sending fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky.

The rocket was sacked after an Israeli airstrike destroyed Hamas' TV building in Gaza.

Israel has warned it is prepared to "dial up its response" to Hamas, while Hamas's military wing said it was ready to "expand the circle of fire" against Israel. As of midday (5 a.m. ET), more than 150 targets had been attacked, among them Hamas government buildings and its television station, the Israeli Defense Force said.

Flares fired from Israeli forces light up the night sky in Gaza City, Nov. 12, 2018, as the Israeli military launched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout the Gaza Strip.

However, Israeli media reported on Monday that a mortar launched from Gaza made it through Israel's defences falling on a bus, severely wounding a 19-year-old soldier.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza had struck southern Israel.

The heavy exchange of fire, which was triggered by a botched Israeli undercover raid into Hamas-ruled Gaza late Sunday, marked the most serious escalation since an Israel-Hamas war in 2014.

Israel responded with dozens of air strikes against Gaza buildings including a Hamas intelligence compound and the Al-Aqsa Television studios, whose employees had received advance warnings from the military to evacuate.

Israeli missile defences intercepted more than 100 rockets from Gaza and most others fell in open areas, though some hit houses and other civilian structures, the military said.

The flare-up came a day after Hamas vowed revenge in response to an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip that killed seven Palestinians including a top Hamas commander.

Kalin said the whole world should reject Israel's occupying and expansionist policies, which seek to turn Palestinian soil into an open-air prison. At least 16 Israelis have been injured, one critically.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris and rushed home after receiving the reports.

The incident was followed by a shoot-out between an elite undercover unit of the IDF and members of Hamas' military wing Izz-a-Din al-Qassam in the area of the Palestinian town of Khan Younis in Gaza on Sunday night.

The United Nations and Egypt, which works as an interlocutor between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, were struggling in vain to broker a ceasefire, as Israeli civilians hid overnight in shelters from relentless rocket barrages and Palestinians cowered in basements from thundering airstrikes.

Medics reported at least six other Israelis wounded with a number of houses and civilian buildings struck by rockets.

Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas takeover, a blockade that has devastated Gaza's economy.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed in that time.

The United Nations and Egypt have said they are trying to broker a cease-fire, but the ferocity of the latest fighting could make that hard.

The escalation came despite Netanyahu's decision to allow Qatar to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip for salaries as well as fuel to ease an electricity shortage.

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