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Tensions escalate in Gaza as Israeli shelling kills Palestinian woman

17:00 May 5 2016 Gaza: Rafah, Gaza City, Beit Lahiya

Tensions escalate in Gaza as Israeli shelling kills Palestinian woman
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Israeli bombing of Gaza: Untitled: Published by Maan News

A photograph shared by the Israeli army shows an excavator reportedly uncovering a tunnel near the borderline between Gaza and Israel on May 5, 2016. Published by Maan News
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GAZA (Ma’an) -- Tensions continued to escalate in the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, with reports of one Palestinian woman killed by Israeli shelling, as Israeli forces said airstrikes were in response to Palestinian resistance groups targeting its troops with mortar rounds.

Medical sources told Ma'an that a Palestinian woman in her fifties, identified as Jana Aytah al-Amur, was killed by Israeli shelling on Thursday evening in the al-Fakhari area east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson said they could not confirm the case.

Medical sources also said that an Israeli airstrike injured a Palestinian woman, identified as 21-year-old Khazima al-Farra, in the al-Rayyan area in eastern Rafah.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli F-16 jets launched several rockets in the southern Gaza Strip at around 5 p.m., hitting agricultural land in the Abu al-Rus area in eastern Rafah.

An Israeli army statement issued at 5:48 p.m. read: "In response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, IAF (Israeli airforce) aircraft targeted four Hamas military posts in the southern Gaza Strip."

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma'an that at least eight alleged Hamas locations had been targeted by airstrikes since Wednesday night. They added that they were unaware of airstrikes occurring after 6 p.m.

Four Palestinians, including three children, were injured earlier in the day when Israeli forces carried out several airstrikes across the small Palestinian territory, one of which hit a metal workshop in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood southeast of Gaza City. The strike injured 65-year-old Hassan Hassanien and three children from the family, who were all taken to the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Israeli forces also carried out several airstrikes in an open area of Jabal al-Sorani east of Gaza City.

The southern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya was also struck by two Israeli rockets, which destroyed a location allegedly being used by the Hamas movement.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army reported that mortar rounds had been fired at its troops near the Gaza border on Thursday afternoon, adding that there were no injuries. It claimed that this was the 10th incident of the sort since Tuesday.

Thursday's violence followed an Israeli aerial offensive earlier on Wednesday evening, which targeted an area near a destroyed airport in the southwestern town of Rafah, which Israeli forces claimed was being used by Hamas.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that airstrikes were carried out from Wednesday evening until three or four in the morning on Thursday.

A statement released by the Israeli army on Thursday morning claimed that the airstrikes were in response to ongoing violence along the border areas between the Gaza Strip and Israel, adding that the strikes targeted four Hamas “terrorist infrastructure sites” in the northern Gaza Strip overnight.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri urged all parties to accept their responsibilities and end the aggression on Gaza in a press statement released on Wednesday, adding that Israeli crimes would not “break the spirit of the Palestinian people.”

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov expressed his concern over the increasing tensions in the besieged enclave, urging all participants to “exercise maximum restraint” and to take all necessary measures to “prevent the risk of escalation.”

Israeli forces also announced on Thursday that they had uncovered a tunnel in southern Gaza, which they said may cross under the security fence between the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.

This latest incursion into the Gaza Strip came only a few hours after Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouq, announced that Egypt was mediating peace efforts to restore the 2014 truce negotiated between Israel and the Gaza Strip following a devastating Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory.
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by Saed Bannoura for IMEMC News

Israeli Amy Official: “No Agreement Regarding Limiting Army Operations On Gaza Border”

Israeli Army Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Territories, Major Maj. -Gen. Yoav ‘Poli’ Mordechai, said the Israeli army will continue its activities in border areas in the Gaza Strip, and denied any knowledge of an agreement on the issue.

Mordechai stated the army intends to continue its operations “against Hamas,” adding that the Hamas movement is “digging tunnels in areas that are under full Israeli control.”

He also said that the military will act against the tunnels in the “Buffer Zone,” across the border fence, and that “such tunnels and activities by Hamas target Israel’s sovereignty, and pose a threat to its security.”

Meanwhile, member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, thanked the Qatari ambassador in Gaza in what he described as “his role in repelling the latest Israeli escalation against Rafah and Sheja’eyya.”

“The people of Gaza appreciate the role of Qatar, the Qatari ambassador, and his relentless efforts in preventing Israel from destroying what Qatar built in the Gaza Strip,” according to Abu Marzook.

On the ground, the Israeli army bombarded several areas in the besieged Gaza Strip, causing serious property damage, in addition to wounding an elderly man and three children.

The Israeli army also invaded, and bulldozed, Palestinian lands, after advancing approximately 150 meters, northeast of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
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Israeli army uncovers tunnel in southern Gaza after detention of Hamas member

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli army said on Thursday that it had uncovered a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip, as tensions escalated in the besieged Palestinian enclave in the past several days.

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the army said the tunnel was located after it detained a Hamas operative, which it identified as 29-year-old Jabalia resident Mahmoud Atuna, in April after he reportedly crossed into Israel.

“Following combined efforts of intelligence and ground forces, the IDF (Israeli army) has uncovered an additional offensive tunnel adjacent to the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

“No one should be living in fear of being attacked in their home by terrorists infiltrating from underground,” the statement quoted spokesman Peter Lerner as saying. “The IDF is determined to maintain the safety and stability of the area and will continue to use all means necessary to target Hamas’ terror activities.”

The Israeli army said Atuna was part of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, and confessed to having planned to attack Israeli soldiers when he was detained.

Atuna gave the Israeli army “detailed information regarding tunnel trajectory in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas’ construction methods, and how Hamas utilized private homes and public institutions to hide the tunnels,” the army statement said.

The statement added that Atuna also named a number of fellow Hamas members, and that an indictment has been filed against him in the Beer Sheba court.

Hamas has yet to publicly comment on Atuna or the tunnel uncovered on Thursday.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the tunnel “appeared to be crossing into Israeli territory,” but that the information had yet to be confirmed by Israeli forces were on the ground. She added that the tunnel had not been uncovered by Israeli airstrikes which took place in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday night.

Earlier on Thursday morning, eyewitnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces were leveling land near the southern Gaza border east of Rafah City with two Israeli bulldozers and three military trench diggers and proceeded to level and dig a tract of land. The army spokesperson said she could not confirm whether this report was linked to the search for the tunnel.

The discovery of the tunnel came as Israeli forces launched a series of airstrikes and shellings across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday, in response to several mortars fired from the Palestinian territory at Israeli soldiers.

In April, the Israeli army revealed that it had uncovered a tunnel crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the first to be found since Israel's devastating military offensive on the coastal enclave in 2014.

There have been reports in recent months that Hamas has expanded its tunnel network -- used mainly for military purposes in the northern Gaza Strip and smuggling in the south -- since Israel's 2014 offensive on Gaza left much of it destroyed.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas' inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.


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