Deaths reported as Israeli air strikes target Gaza after rocket fire

Smoke and flame are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza. (Reuters)

At least three Palestinians were killed and five others wounded as Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza on Monday, the strip's health ministry said in a statement

Israel’s military said it was carrying out air strikes “throughout the Gaza Strip” on Monday after a barrage of rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave towards its territory.   

Hamas TV station bombed 

Israeli warplanes bombed the studios of Hamas’s television station in the Gaza Strip on Monday during a surge in cross-border fighting, Palestinian officials and witnesses said.

There was no immediate word of casualties in the air strike on Al-Aqsa Television, which destroyed the premises in Gaza City and damaged nearby buildings.

Many local residents had fled after Israel phoned in calls to evacuate and launched at least five non-exploding missiles nearby as warnings, witnesses said.

Al-Aqsa Television - named after a major mosque Jerusalem - said it would resume broadcasts soon.

Israel reported some 80 “launches” from the Gaza Strip towards its territory -- reportedly rockets and mortars -- with a number intercepted by missile defenses.

It also said an Israeli bus was hit by fire from the Gaza Strip. It was not clear yet if there were injuries.

The flare-up follows a clash that erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip late Sunday that killed eight people. Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, had vowed revenge.

The renewed violence was threatening to derail weeks of efforts to end unrest along the Gaza-Israel border.

“What is happening puts into the jeopardy the Egyptian efforts to help with calm between both sides, whether Hamas’ attack today was intentional in order to escalate the situation,” Dr. Ghassan al-Khatib, a professor at Birzeit University, told Al Arabiya.

The dead from the incident late Sunday included an Israeli army officer and a local commander for Hamas’s armed wing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris and rushed home as tensions rose.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and recent unrest has raised fears of a fourth. 

Egypt tells Israel it needs to de-escalate Gaza violence 

Egypt told Israel on Monday it needed to stop an escalation of violence in the Gaza strip, state TV quoted sources as saying.

The sources said Egypt told Israel of the need to commit to the de-escalation process, and also stepped up efforts with the Palestinians in that regard.
 

(With agencies)

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