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Israeli warplanes pummel Gaza Strip

ISRAELI warplanes pummelled the besieged Gaza strip late on Sunday, targeting agricultural land and civilian property which Tel Aviv claimed was a retaliation for rocket fire from the enclave.

The fighter jets fired at least five missiles setting the land on fire and destroying buildings in an attack on al-Zaytoon, east of Gaza City according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

Another strip of agricultural land was struck close to al-Shejaiya. No casualties were reported in the attacks which Israel said was targeting Hamas positions.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) confirmed it carried out the strikes with attack helicopters and fighter jets, saying that among the targets were “underground infrastructure belonging to the Hamas terror group.”

Tel Aviv claimed that three rockets were fired from Gaza prior to the air assault, with two landing in an empty field. The other was reportedly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

But the IDF insisted that Hamas — which forms the government in Gaza — is responsible for “what happens in the Gaza Strip and what comes out of it.”

Some two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip and have been subjected to a crippling blockade for 12 years, destroying the local economy and leaving residents facing shortages of food and medical supplies.

According to the Ministry of Social Development, 70 per cent of Gaza’s population have little to no food, while unemployment and poverty levels were at 75 per cent in 2019.

The besieged strip remains cut off from the rest of the occupied territories with no control over its borders, air space or territorial waters.

Tensions have risen in recent days amid Israel’s plans to annex whole swathes of Palestinian land, including the fertile Jordan Valley.

The move, outlined in US President Donald Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century announced in Washington in January, has been branded illegal by the UN and received global condemnation.

But Israel has repeatedly breached UN resolutions without recourse and is unlikely to be fazed by criticism unless accompanied by actions in response to its land grab.

Calls are growing for sanctions to be placed on Israel should it press ahead with annexation plans, which Hamas has called “a declaration of war” on Palestine.

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