Israel strikes Gaza, closes both border crossings after rocket attack

Residents in the Gaza Strip said jets had targeted three locations but there were no initial reports of casualties. (AP)

One Palestinian was killed after Israeli jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday following a rocket fired from thr enclave struck a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the closure of both of Israel's border crossings with Gaza following the rocket attack.

Lieberman ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, and the reduction of the permitted fishing zone along the Gaza coast to three nautical miles, the defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, said.

A medical official told Israel Radio that three people were taken to hospital after the rocket struck the house. Residents in the Gaza Strip said jets had targeted eight locations. The military said another rocket had been launched from Gaza, falling into the sea.

Health ministry officials in Gaza said three people were wounded in an Israeli air strike against an armed training camp in Rafah, in the south of the coastal strip. There were no reports of serious injuries in Israel.

Tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have been simmering for months amid weekly border protests and the launching by Palestinian militants of incendiary balloons and kites across the border fence.

Israeli leaders have warned that they are prepared to escalate military action on Gaza to curb attacks and protests. Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, fought a war in 2014.

Around 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the border protests began on March 30, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures.

The Israeli military said the demonstrators last Friday hurled rocks, explosive devices, firebombs and grenades. Gaza health officials said seven Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops opened fire on a group that broke through the fence.

Israel has drawn international condemnation for its use of deadly force, but says it is protecting its borders and civilian population.

After the latest strikes, video footage from Beersheba, about 40 km (25 miles) from the Gaza Strip, showed extensive damage to a concrete and stone house in a residential street.

Still photos aired on Israeli Channel 2 showed large black plumes of smoke rising from various locations in the Gaza Strip

An Egyptian security delegation was visiting the Gaza Strip to try to restore calm.

Israel’s military chief cut short a visit to the United States and was returning home, and schools were to be shut in Beersheba for the day, the reports said.

Israeli reports said Israel had closed the commercial and pedestrian crossing in and out of the Gaza Strip and had cut the fishing limit to three miles.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders, citing security concerns. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.
 

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Last Update: 06:52 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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