Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza

Israeli soldiers carry the civilian shot near the Israel and Gaza border to a helicopter (AP)
Israeli soldiers carry the civilian shot near the Israel and Gaza border to a helicopter (AP)
A Palestinian relative weeps after seeing the lifeless body of a three-year-old medics said was killed during an Israeli airstrike (AP)

Israel has launched a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the deadly shooting of an Israeli civilian, killing at least two people, including a young girl, and wounding nine.

It was the heaviest flare-up of violence along the volatile border in months and threatened to destabilise a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers that largely has held for more than a year.

The Gaza Health Ministry said one airstrike killed a three-year-old girl and wounded three relatives, including two young siblings. He said a man was killed in an Israeli attack in northern Gaza. In all, nine people were wounded, one critically, he said.

Israel launched the airstrikes shortly after a Gaza sniper shot an Israeli civilian labourer as he worked on the border fence. The man was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The incident occurred as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting the nearby town of Sderot, a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, to inaugurate a new rail line.

"This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered," Mr Netanyahu said. "Our policy until now has been to act beforehand and to respond in force, and this is how we will act regarding this incident as well."

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies, but both sides largely have observed a ceasefire that ended eight days of heavy fighting in November 2012. The peace has been tested by periodic rocket and mortar attacks out of Gaza. Salafist extremists have been behind most of the violence, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for any attacks out of the territory.

Israel recently discovered a pair of smuggling tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel that it said were built by militant groups planning to stage attacks.

-AP

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz