The Israeli army says Palestinian militants fired several rockets into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip last night. In response, the army fired rockets into Gaza.
The two-way rocket attacks, which have not yet been announced by the Palestinian side, follow an Israeli army raid on the occupied West Bank. At least eleven people were killed yesterday.
According to the Israeli army, six rockets were fired from Gaza, five of which were intercepted. The sixth projectile would have landed in an open area. There are no reports of casualties.
Fear of further escalation
Yesterday afternoon, the Israeli army entered the city of Nablus in the West Bank, saying that three Palestinian terror suspects had hidden in a building there. After the army surrounded that building, a firefight ensued. Riots also broke out.
After the raid, Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli army:
According to the Palestinian authorities, more than 100 people were injured, some of them seriously. Of the eleven fatalities, six were members of militant groups. The youngest deceased victim was 16 years old.
The gunfight in Nablus is one of the bloodiest violent incidents in the occupied territories in more than a year. There are fears of new outbreaks of violence and a further escalation of the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli police said they had been put on high alert after the action in Nablus.
The Palestinian militant movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it was “running out of patience”. Islamic Jihad, another militant group in the area, announced reprisals.
There is concern internationally about the impending escalation. EU foreign policy chief Borrell says he regrets the civilian deaths in Nablus and is “deeply concerned” by the rising violence in the West Bank.
Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs reports on Twitter that his thoughts are with the victims. “De-escalation must be the top priority to prevent more casualties,” he says.
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