Israeli air strikes hit four Hamas sites in Gaza: military

Jerusalem: Israeli air strikes have hit four Hamas sites in Gaza, the military said, following air raids earlier in the day as tensions flared along the border of the Palestinian territory.

“Overnight, in response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, an IAF aircraft targeted four Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites in the northern Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement yesterday.

The Israeli army hit five Hamas operated sites earlier yesterday in the south of Gaza, saying the raids were in response to mortar shells fired at its territory.

There were no reported casualties and no claims of responsibility for the mortar fire, but both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant Palestinian group, released separate statements warning Israel against any escalation along the border.

The spike in violence puts pressure on a ceasefire that has held since the last round of hostilities in Gaza ended in summer 2014.

Despite Israeli allegations that Hamas is building new tunnels in Gaza that could reach into Israel, the border region has remained relatively quiet since then.

The tunnels were cited by Israel as a key cause of the 50- day 2014 war in Gaza, which killed 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, including 67 soldiers, according to the United Nations.

“Our efforts to locate and destroy the Hamas terror tunnel network are our main priority due to the serious threat to the lives and wellbeing of Israeli civilians,” Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said in a statement following the overnight strikes.