TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Israeli military said in a statement that its fighter jets had carried out airstrikes “throughout the Gaza Strip” on Monday afternoon, claiming that the aerial aggression was aimed at “terror targets” in the impoverished enclave.
The Israeli military claimed in a statement that the aerial aggression was in response to some 80 rockets and mortar shells fired against the southern parts of the occupied territories minutes earlier, wounding at least 19 Israeli settlers, one in critical condition. Gaza's retaliatory rockets also hit a bus carrying Israeli forces, killing one of them and injuring several.
It added that Israel’s so-called Iron Dome managed to intercept several of the inbound projectiles.
Rocket sirens sounded throughout southern Israeli settlements, including in Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and Sderot. The sirens prompted thousands of settlers to rush for bomb shelters.
The Gaza Health Ministry, in a brief statement, said that at least three people lost their lives in the Israeli strikes, identifying two of them as Mohammed Zakaria Ismail al-Titri, 27, and Mohammad Zuhdi Hassan Ouda, 22. It also said that six other Gazans were wounded in the raids.
In a statement, Hamas claimed responsibility for the massive barrage of rockets and projectiles fired into southern parts of the occupied territories, near the so-called border fence separating them from the Gaza Strip.
“The joint command of Palestinian factions announces the beginning of bombardments of the enemy's settlements with scores of rockets,” said the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
The flare-up came just a day after Israeli special forces infiltrated the Gaza Strip, assassinating a top Hamas commander, while subsequent Israeli airstrikes killed six others, including another commander with the Palestinian resistance movement. Reports also said that an Israeli officer was also killed during the ensuing clashes.
A firefight erupted afterwards, with Israeli aircraft firing from above “to cover the retreat of this force, and in the process some of our people were killed,” a Hamas statement said. Local witnesses said the aircraft fired over 20 missiles during the strikes.