Israel targets Hamas leaders in new Gaza raids

July 16, 2014 7:59 am
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A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot shows rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, on July 15, 2014/AFP
A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot shows rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, on July 15, 2014/AFP
GAZA CITY, July 16 – Israeli warplanes bombed the home of a senior Hamas leader early Wednesday, as a campaign against Gaza militants entered day nine with no sign of an immediate end to hostilities.

Israel had resumed Tuesday its punishing air campaign against the Palestinian territory, which has killed 197 people, as international efforts towards a ceasefire collapsed.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday the army would “expand and intensify” its operation after Hamas snubbed an Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

The first major strike on Wednesday hit the western Gaza City home of senior Hamas figure Mahmud al-Zahar, flattening the building, security officials said, but witnesses said the house had been empty.

Separate strikes in Gaza City and Jabalia in the north targeted the homes of at least three other Hamas officials, with no immediate reports of casualties.

Wednesday’s early morning strikes came after the first Israeli fatality from a total of nearly 1,000 rockets fired into the Jewish state by Gaza militants.

The man, later identified as Dror Hanin, 37, from a West Bank settlement, was killed in a rocket attack on an Israeli position near the Erez crossing with Gaza late Tuesday.

Hamas’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing said it carried out the attack.

The civilian had been delivering food to soldiers serving in the area, medics told AFP.

Early Tuesday, Israel’s security cabinet said it would accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire to begin at 0600 GMT.

But Hamas officials said they had not been consulted on the proposal and would not halt fire without a full-fledged deal including Israeli concessions.

The movement’s armed wing continued to fire dozens of rockets into Israel after the truce deadline, sending tens of thousands scrambling for cover.

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