Israel Under Attack

Israel Under Attack

Palestinian militants on Saturday fired over 250 rockets into Israel, drawing dozens of retaliatory airstrikes on targets across the Gaza Strip in a round of heavy fighting that broke a month-long lull between the enemies. Six Palestinians, including a pregnant mother and her baby, were killed, while four Israelis were wounded, including an elderly man who was in a critical condition.

The fighting, the most intense between the sides in months, came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at preventing a fraying cease-fire from collapsing altogether.

It also comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is to mark its Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday this week, before hosting the Eurovision song contest in the middle of the month. Prolonged fighting could overshadow the Eurovision and potentially deter international travelers from coming in for the festive event. For Gazans, the violence continued as they prepare to begin the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan on Monday.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group that opposes Israel’s existence, have fought three wars and dozens of smaller flare-ups of violence since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. They engaged in several days of heavy fighting in March before Egypt brokered a truce in which Israel agreed to ease a crippling blockade on Gaza in exchange for a halt in rocket fire. In recent days, Hamas accused Israel of reneging on its pledges as militants began to fire rockets into Israel.

See also  Rochas Okorocha, Senator representing Imo West has warned the State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha to stop harassing his wife and children. Okorocha, who is the immediate past governor of the state said harassing his wife and children by the Ihedioha-led state government was unacceptable. The lawmaker’s warning was contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on media, Sam Onwuemedo. He challenged the governor to take charge as the leader of the State and halt the incessant harassment and abuse of his wife and children by his senior appointees. The statement reads: TThugs believed to be working for the secretary to the State Government, Chief Onyeaguocha invaded a mechanic workshop around the Orji flyover and took away a vehicle undergoing repair and owned by the daughter of the former governor, Uloma Nwosu nee Okorocha. β€œEven when she later sent her staff with the particulars of the vehicle they took away, to show that the vehicle does not belong to the State Government and to show that she bought the vehicle long time ago, they threatened to beat her and detain her and never cared to look at the particulars of the vehicle. β€œIf Ihedioha’s government wanted anything from any of the former governor’s children or wife they could do so through the Police or DSS in the State. Invading their houses or impounding their private vehicles even from the mechanics for any reason, is barbaric and should be frowned at.’ β€œWe want to make this appeal and ask Governor Emeka Ihedioha to take charge as the governor of the State and halt the incessant harassment and abuse of the wife and children of the former governor of the State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha by his senior appointees and their foot soldiers. Specifically, Governor Ihedioha should call Uche Onyeaguocha and his thugs to order and stop them from their harassment and abuse of the wife and children of the former governor. β€œChief Ihedioha should not create an ugly history or set a very bad precedence as the first governor of the State who took delight in harassing the children and wife of the man he succeeded as governor. β€œChief Ikedi Ohakim never harassed or abused the children and wife of Achike Udenwa he succeeded as governor. Owelle Rochas Okorocha for one day, never harassed or abused the wife and children of Chief Ohakim who he succeeded also as governor. Ihedioha should follow those examples. β€œHis appointees have been harassing and castigating the children and wife of the former governor even at public functions and in the media. This is not good for the Office of governor. They can criticize or malign Rochas Okorocha on any issue which they have been doing, but to begin to harass the children and wife, is unacceptable to us and indeed, to all decent men and women in the society. ” Thugs believed to be working for the secretary to the State Government, Chief Onyeaguocha invaded a mechanic workshop around the Orji flyover and took away a vehicle undergoing repair and owned by the daughter of the former governor, Uloma Nwosu nee Okorocha. ” Even when she later sent her staff with the particulars of the vehicle they took away, to show that the vehicle does not belong to the State Government and to show that she bought the vehicle long time ago, they threatened to beat her and detain her and never cared to look at the particulars of the vehicle. If Ihedioha’s government wanted anything from any of the former governor’s children or wife they could do so through the Police or DSS in the State. Invading their houses or impounding their private vehicles even from the mechanics for any reason, is barbaric and should be frowned at. β€œIt is also important to remind those who have got appointments for chewing election result sheets that no human being has the monopoly of thuggery or lawlessness and the most dangerous situation could arise when people are pushed to the wall. It also gives the wrong impression that those who want to be Secretary to the Government of the State should only need to tear or chew election result sheets. Okorocha’s wife and children never committed any crime by remaining in the State after he had left as governor, when the children and wives of those before him are all at overseas. β€œThey are here because they believe in the State and Owelle has an addiction for the good of the State. Finally, people should not see Rochas Okorocha’s penchant for peace and tolerance as weakness. A word should be enough for the wise.”

In a familiar scene, air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel throughout the day and into the evening as barrages of rockets were repeatedly fired. Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home in east Gaza City. Her pregnant mother, 37, was severely wounded and died later at the hospital, the ministry added. Another child was moderately injured.

β€œThey were sitting at the yard in their house with their mother. They were shocked by a missile landing on them,” said Abu Nidal Abu Arar, a relative living next door. β€œThis occupation is criminal.”

In the morning, Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli airstrike, and 40 other Palestinians were wounded. Late Saturday, health officials said a 25-year-old man was killed by an Israeli drone missile as he was traveling on a motorbike in northern Gaza. At dawn, two Islamic Jihad militants were killed by an airstrike in central Gaza Strip, the group said.

In Israel, medical officials said an 80-year-old woman was severely wounded by rocket fire, a 50-year-old man was moderately wounded by shrapnel and a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

Early Sunday, Israeli police said a rocket landed in a courtyard in Ashkelon, about 10 kilometers north of Gaza, causing damage to several buildings. As a result, an Israeli man suffered β€œheavy injuries and was in a grave condition.”

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The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday. It said the shooting was not coordinated with Hamas, but said it holds Hamas, as the territory’s ruling power, responsible for all fire emanating from Gaza.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said β€œthe United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel.”

β€œWe stand with Israel and fully support its right to self defense against these abhorrent attacks,” she said in a statement.

By nightfall, the army said militants had fired well over 200 rockets into Israel. It said dozens of the rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket-defense system. But it closed roads near the Gaza border to civilian traffic and closed a popular beach as a security precaution.

The military said it struck some 120 targets in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad military compounds, a Hamas rocket-manufacturing site and a β€œhigh-end Islamic Jihad tunnel” that it said stretched into Israel for use in attacks.

Late on Saturday, Israel struck a building that it said housed Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza City. Another airstrike hit a six-story commercial and residential building. Journalists said the building housed the office of Turkey’s news agency Anadolu. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

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