Israeli Fighter Jets Pound Hamas Terror Targets in Gaza

Palestinian teenager killed in Gaza border protests

Israeli jets strike Hamas in Gaza in response to ‘terror acts & violent riots’ at border (VIDEO)

"Egyptian and worldwide efforts succeeded in ending the current round of escalation", a Palestinian official told Reuters.

In the Saturday afternoon salvo, Palestinians fired more than 60 rockets and mortar shells and sirens wailed frequently in southern Israel. But even before the report of casualties the intense tit-for-tat airstrikes and rocket barrages still marked a significant flare-up after a long period of a generally low-level, simmering conflict.

It was the largest daytime attack by Israel on the coastal enclave controlled by the Hamas Islamist group since the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, an army spokesman said.

In a statement, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said they had launched strikes against multiple militant sites in Gaza in response to renewed violence along the border.

Around 10 other passers-by were wounded, the officials said.

Home to 2 million Palestinians, more than half of them war refugees and their descendants, Gaza has suffered deep poverty with vital infrastructure collapsing under a 12-year blockade by Israel, which says its aim is to curb security threats by Hamas.

The surge in violence followed mounting public criticism of Netanyahu over failure to counter a new Palestinian tactic: incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza that have burned crops and scrubland in southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had been hit with "the hardest blow" since a 2014 war "and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary".

Palestinian teenager killed in Gaza border protests

With Israel focused on rising tension along its northern border in its efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military foothold in post-civil war Syria, it has been wary of escalating hostilities in Gaza.

Israel's Education Minister and leader of coalition party, Naftali Bennett, slammed a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which was announced on Saturday night to end nearly twenty-four hours of fighting, calling it a "serious mistake".

According to the IDF, six projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.

Thick plumes of smoke rose over parts of the Gaza Strip as Israel hit dozens of targets it said belonged to militants, including a high-rise building allegedly used by Hamas as a training facility with a tunnel underneath.

Israeli media reported that more than 140 rocket alarm sirens also sounded throughout communities near the Israel-Gaza border from midnight into the morning. A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over the fence into Israel was shot dead. Most of the recent rockets from Gaza have been fired by smaller factions but Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was an "immediate response" that was meant to "deliver the message".

Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover for attempts to breach the border fence and attack civilians and soldiers.

The conflagration came after Israeli troops killed two protesters and wounded hundreds of others on Friday in clashes at the border, where often-violent protests have continued since March.

Since the protests began on March 30, at least 138 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 160,000 wounded.

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