Israeli army intercepts ‘small aircraft’ over Gaza

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The Israeli army said Saturday it had “intercepted a small aircraft over the Gaza Strip,” where witnesses told AFP they heard “explosions” near the border.

The army stressed it was not rocket or other fire that posed a threat to Israelis. “It was not a projectile launch. Full routine continues on the Israeli home front,” it said in a statement.

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The army didn’t say where the aircraft had been heading or where it had come from.

Nor was there any immediate claim of responsibility from any of the armed Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Earlier on Saturday, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group said its leader Ziad al-Nakhala had travelled to Cairo to meet Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

It said the two sides discussed “the situation in Jerusalem, and the West Bank, especially Jenin,” a flashpoint city and refugee camp, where Israel last month conducted its deadliest single operation in the West Bank in years, killing 10 people.

The trip followed a visit by Kamel to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, where he met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to discuss the recent surge in violence.

On Thursday, Israel conducted air strikes on the Gaza Strip, hours after intercepting a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory.

Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 36 Palestinians, including attackers, militants and civilians.

Six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period.

The densely populated Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, has been under Israeli blockade since Hamas ousted forces loyal to Abbas in 2007.

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