Gaza militants launch barrages across border, Israel strikes back

Palestinian militants launched their heaviest barrages against Israel since the 2014 Gaza war and Israel struck back in a surge of fighting after weeks of border violence.

Smoke billows in the background following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave in Gaza City on May 29, 2018.

Palestinian militants Tuesday launched their heaviest barrages against Israel since the 2014 Gaza war and Israeli aircraft struck back in a surge of fighting after weeks of border violence.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from either side after the Israeli military said more than 25 mortar bombs and rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in several salvoes in the morning and afternoon.

Israeli planes attacked at least seven facilities belonging to armed group Islamic Jihad and the territory’s dominant Hamas movement after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a “powerful” response.

The Israeli military said several of the projectiles fired from Gaza were shot down by its Iron Dome rocket interceptor and others landed in empty lots and farmland. One exploded in the yard of a kindergarten, damaging its walls and scattering the playground with shrapnel, about an hour before it was scheduled to open for the day.

There was no claim of responsibility from any of the militant groups in Gaza, but the attack comes after Islamic Jihad vowed to take revenge after three of its members were killed by Israeli tank shelling.

Violence has soared along the Gaza frontier in recent weeks during which 116 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire at mass demonstrations for a right of return to ancestral lands.

A Hamas spokesman defended Tuesday’s attacks as a “natural response to Israeli crimes.” In similarly phrased remarks, an Islamic Jihad spokesman said “the blood of our people is not cheap.”

Gaza residents said at least seven training or security facilities belonging to Islamic Jihad and Hamas were hit in the Israeli air strikes.


Fishing boats carry a group of Palestinian activists who are protesting Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, setting to sail from Gaza City harbor, on May 29, 2018.

Amid high tensions in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces stopped and seized control of a Palestinian protest boat Tuesday, organizers said, as those aboard sought to demonstrate against the Jewish state’s blockade of Gaza.

The boat, carrying sick Gazans and those unable to find work, was stopped by Israeli forces several kilometers out at sea, Salah Abdul Atti, one of the organizers, said.

“Israeli forces surrounded it and intercepted it,” he said, adding communications had been lost with the boat.

He said they had been informed the boat and its passengers would be taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli army and the circumstances of the incident were unclear.

Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the boat was making an “illegal attempt to break a legal naval blockade.”

One main boat carrying around 20 people accompanied by a group of smaller ones had set off from Gaza City Tuesday morning.

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