Israel army says ‘wide-scale’ airstrikes launched at Gaza Strip

An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen on Gaza City, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (File photo: AP)

The Israeli military said on Friday that it launched “wide-scale” airstrikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip shortly after Palestinian militants fired three rockets into Israel, two of which were intercepted.

There were no reports of casualties or major damage from the exchange of fire overnight, which came amid heightened tensions after President Donald Trump released his Mideast plan, a US initiative aimed at ending the conflict that heavily favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians.

Palestinians have called for large protests after Friday prayers, including at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to Muslims and Jews. The plan contains mixed messages about the fragile understandings governing the holy site, which could provoke a backlash there.

Gaza has been relatively calm in recent months as Egyptian and UN mediators have worked to shore up an informal truce between Israel and Hamas, the extremist militant group that rules the coastal territory.

Hamas has curbed rocket fire and rolled back weekly protests along the frontier that had often turned violent. In return, Israel has eased the blockade it imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized power from forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have rejected the Trump plan, which would allow Israel to annex all of its Jewish settlements, along with the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians were offered limited self-rule in Gaza, parts of the West Bank and some sparsely populated areas of Israel in return for meeting a long list of conditions.

Hamas has vowed that “all options are open” in responding to the proposal, but is not believed to be seeking war with Israel. Palestinian militants have fought three devastating wars with Israel since the Hamas takeover.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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