Israel warns Hamas further attacks risk more Gaza suffering

Published: Updated:

The Israeli army on Thursday warned the Gaza Strip’s residents and its Hamas rulers that further attacks on Israel could incur tougher conditions for the coastal territory.

The warning came in a tweet from the army’s chief Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee, hours after Israeli aircraft hit Hamas targets in retaliation for overnight Palestinian rocket attacks.

Hamas launched two rockets at Israel late Wednesday -- bringing to six the number of strikes from Gaza in less than a week -- the army said, adding that they caused no casualties or damage.

In retaliation, the army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip.”

A Palestinian security source told AFP a naval base west of Gaza City had been “targeted several times” by Israeli aircraft.

The source said aircraft had also targeted “three sites in the central Gaza Strip and in Khan Yunis” in the south.

He reported no casualties.

“Those who carry out terrorist attacks will prevent improvement to the situation in the Gaza Strip,” Adraee said.

“This will affect residents of the entire Strip.”

Past flare-ups this year led Israel to block fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip and limit fishing activity, only relaxing restrictions as part of a UN and Egypt-brokered truce in March.

Since early August, there have also been a series of deadly incidents on the ground along the Gaza border.

The Palestinian health ministry said three people died as a result of Israeli tank and helicopter fire on armed Palestinians on Saturday.

Another Palestinian was shot dead after firing at Israeli soldiers on Thursday, according to the army.

The day before, the army said it shot dead four heavily armed Palestinians after one crossed the border and threw a grenade at soldiers.

On August 1, a Palestinian seeking to avenge his brother’s death by Israeli fire was killed when he entered Israel from Gaza and opened fire on soldiers, the army said.

Three soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Adraee said that some of the recent violence was the work of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.
But he also reiterated Israel’s official view that Hamas is responsible for any attacks from the territory under its control.

“Islamic Jihad has carried out, and plans to carry out, attacks, including rocket fire. Israel can not and will not accept such attacks,” he said.

“Hamas, which governs Gaza, must assert its authority to prevent these plans and attacks.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid an escalation in the Gaza Strip before a September 17 general election, but he faces heavy political pressure to respond firmly.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have fought three wars since 2008.