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Israeli warplanes pummel Gaza

ISRAELI warplanes pounded the besieged Gaza strip last night, shattering a fragile ceasefire brokered in November after the targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata.

Civilian homes were damaged as F-16 fighter jets targeted at least two positions in the Palestinian territory, while an Israeli drone bombed a location to the north-west of Gaza City.

Israel claimed it was responding to rockets fired from Gaza, the standard justification given by its military for such bombing missions.

The Israeli navy also opened fire on a number of Palestinian fishermen and their boats off the shore of the al-Sudaniya area, north-west of Gaza City.

Another air strike was confirmed to have hit a position in the northern town of Jabalia, although no casualties were reported.

Fears of an escalation in Israeli hostilities have increased with elections due to take place on March 2 after September’s poll failed to produce an outright winner.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu faces a serious challenge to his rule and has taken a hard-line approach against Palestine, promising to annex the West Bank.

He is under pressure from closest rival Benny Gantz, a former military chief and leader of the Blue and White coalition.

Mr Netanyahu also faces corruption charges, but is seeking immunity from prosecution.

A ceasefire had been brokered by Egypt and the United Nations last November after conflict flared between Israel and the Islamic Jihad group.

Two million Palestinians living in Gaza have been subjected to a 12-year blockade, with much of its infrastructure destroyed by Israeli attacks.

Israel controls its land borders and access to the sea and airspace, cutting the enclave from the other Palestinian territories.


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