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Israel escalates tensions with deadly attack on Gaza

PALESTINIAN groups attempted to de-escalate tensions as Israeli forces pounded the Gaza strip firing hundreds of missiles in response to two missiles they claimed were fired at Tel Aviv by militants on Thursday night.

Yesterday’s Great March of Return was cancelled for the first time in nearly a year in an effort to bring calm as Israeli war planes continued their assault with bombs allegedly targeting civilian areas in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Video footage appeared to show Israeli jets targeting infrastructure in Gaza with missiles fired at the representative office of the Ministry of Prisoners located in the middle of a residential area.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said in a press statement that they were responding “to the rockets that were launched towards Israel earlier this evening by the Hamas terror organisation” when fighter jets, attack helicopters and other aircraft struck approximately 100 military targets.

However both Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied launching the rockets which triggered Tel Aviv’s Iron Dome system which intercepted the missiles.

Hamas officials warned that the move was “against the national consensus,” promising to hold the perpetrators to account.

The group which runs the Gaza strip, as the largest party after the 2006 elections, said it was in negotiations with Egyptian mediators at the time of the attack discussing the terms of a ceasefire with Israel.

Islamic Jihad also denied involvement in the attack, the first time missiles from Gaza have reached Tel Aviv since 2014.

“These accusations are mere lies by the Israeli occupation,” spokesman Daoud Shihab said. “Our movement and its military wing the Al-Quds Brigades did not fire any rockets.”

However Israel holds Hamas responsible for any attacks that come from the Gaza strip and said Thursday’s attack came without warning.

Early assessments from the Israeli military suggested that the missiles may have been fired at Tel Aviv by accident.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett demanded firm action against Hamas.

“It’s time to defeat Hamas. It’s time to act unilaterally and demilitarise Hamas in order to defend Israeli citizens,” he said.

Israel is under investigation for potential war crimes after nearly 200 people were killed and more than 9,000 injured after its armed forces attacked peaceful protesters during Great March of Return protests last year.

The higher national committee for the Great March of Return in Gaza have called for a general strike on March 30, which coincides with the 42nd anniversary of Land Day and the first anniversary of the protests.

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