Friday, April 02, 2010

3 children hurt in Israeli air raids on Gaza: hospital

GAZA CITY — Three children were injured by flying glass as Israeli F16 fighter planes flew six raids against the Gaza Strip overnight, hospital staff, witnesses and Hamas officials said Friday.

The three children, aged two, four and 11, were hit by flying glass in a raid on the Sabra district, in the western part of Gaza City, said Moawiya Hassanein, head of the Palestinian emergency services in Gaza.

The air strikes came after the latest in a series of rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel, when one landed in town of Ashkelon late Thursday, causing damage but no casualties, said the Israeli army.

Three Israeli air strikes targetted an area west of Khan Yunis, in the southern part of the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas. Two of the missiles hit a guard post of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades.

A fourth raid destroyed a worskhop in the refugee camp of Nusseirat, in central Gaza.

In two other air raids, Israeli fighters targetted points in the west of Gaza City, completely destroying a small dairy factory in the Sabra district, said witnesses.

The attacks were carried out by F16 fighters, the witnesses said.

Israel's armed forces have launched regular air raids on the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, responding to repeated rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza-based militants.

As well as the attack late Thursday, Palestinian militants also fired a rocket into southern Israel on Wednesday evening. One such attack killed a Thai labourer on an Israeli kibbutz, or collective farm, on March 18.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 40 rockets or mortars into Israel since the beginning of the year, nearly 20 of them in March alone, according to Israeli army figures published Thursday.

In recent days, Israeli ground forces have also clashed with Palestinian militants along the border with Israel.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others were wounded as Israeli troops fired on protestors near the Gaza border.

The incident happened as Israeli Arabs and Palestinians marked "Land Day", the annual commemoration of Israel's killing of six Arab citizens during a 1976 protest against land confiscations.

And an Israeli officer and soldier were killed during fierce clashes last weekend.

Following the deaths, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, from the governing rightwing Likud party, told public radio: "Sooner or later we will liquidate the military regime of the pro-Iranian Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip."

The present surge in violence is the worst since the end of the 22-day Israeli assault on the territory launched in December 2008 that killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

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