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ISRAELI air raids killed at least two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip today a day after the Israeli Defence Force killed seven Hamas fighters and itself lost an officer in an undercover mission in the besieged strip.
Tel Aviv sent warplanes to strike “terror targets” in Gaza following a barrage of mortar fire from the territory that wounded six Israelis, one critically. The mortar fire followed the funerals of seven members of the al-Qassam brigades, as Hamas’s armed wing is known, killed by Israel the previous day.
Israel has not explained the purpose of Sunday night’s incursion into Palestinian territory, which saw soldiers enter Gaza in a civilian car and kill mid-level Hamas commander Nour el-Deen Baraka about two miles from the Israeli border. Hamas troops scrambled and chased the car but Israeli warplanes bombed the pursuit, killing six people and allowing it to “exfiltrate” Gaza successfully, in the words of IDF military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. However an IDF lieutenant-colonel, who had not been named when the Morning Star went to press, was killed during the mission.
Thousands attended the Palestinians’ funerals today, many chanting “revenge” as the coffins were carried to the graves. Hamas ordered security sweeps across Gaza and cancelled a weekly beach protest by the Israeli border because of concerns it would be met by violence.
The sudden escalation followed a slight easing of tension last week when Israel allowed Qatar to transfer $15 million (£11.6m) in aid to Gaza’s Hamas government, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was intended to avert an “unnecessary war.”
Gaza faces an ongoing humanitarian crisis due to the Israeli siege and hundreds of unarmed residents have been shot dead by Israeli troops this year while participating in “Great Return March” demonstrations along the border, which are held to highlight Palestinian refugees’ UN-mandated right of return to land seized from them during the creation of Israel in 1948.
Israeli forces seized at least eight Palestinians, including two minors aged 14 and 15, in pre-dawn raids in the West Bank today. Police also carried out raids and searched Palestinian homes in the Issawiya area of occupied East Jerusalem.
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