Israeli air raids kill 1 in Gaza 31Jul10 August 1, 2010

Palestine Note -  31 July 2010


At least 10 Palestinians were wounded and one killed in a series of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip overnight, medics in Gaza reported. Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades fighter Issa Abdul-Hadi Al-Batran, 40, was killed in an airstrike near Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, Ma’an News Agency said.

Eight were injured in an airstrike on the Ansar Security Compound in Gaza City, the report said, and the strike caused serous structural damage to the nearby buildings and homes. The compound was largely evacuated prior to the strike.

Director of ambulance and emergency service in Gaza Muawiya Hassanein identified all those brought in from the compound as Hamas government-employed security personnel, Ma’an reported.

A strike on the Al-Muntada area where the compound is located put a young girl and an elderly man in the hospital as well, the report said. All were treated at Ash-Shifa Hospital.

Ma’an described the scene following the strike:

A statement from International Solidarity Movement workers in Gaza said “those first at the scene described building debris scattered everywhere and burned out cars still parked on the street.”

Witnesses said the incident brought back raw memories of the strikes that kicked off Israel’s war on Gaza, which targeted a police graduation ceremony at the primary security headquarters in Gaza City. The first strikes totaled the government buildings, and killed more than 200 young Gaza man who were graduating from the police academy.

The Israeli airstrikes also targeted Deir al-Balah and underground smuggling tunnels in central and southern Gaza, producing no injuries. Witnesses said sites in the north were targeted by air and artillery fire and that tanks were present as well, Ma’an reported.

The strikes appeared to be the largest in scale in recent months in Gaza, where a relative calm has prevailed since Israel ended a massive three-week offensive 18 months ago.

Initial reports of the number of casualties varied. Al-Jazeera television reporter Sami Zyara quoted police and medical sources saying that 13 people had been confirmed injured.

According to multiple news reports, smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip were among the targets of the strike, in addition to the Ansar security compound in Gaza City, and the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood. Israeli F-16 jets were said to have been used in the attack.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strikes, but the military has since confirmed that the raids were in “response to Grad rocket fire,” launched from Gaza that stuck the Israeli city of Ashkelon early on Friday. Ma’an has more:

The statement said the target near Nuseriat was a weapons-manufacturing warehouse, and described the Rafah strike as targeting a weapons-smuggling tunnel.

The series of strikes, the most destructive in months, came after Israeli officials reported the launch of a Grad rocket from Gaza which landed in the city of Ashkelon. In its statement the military noted that the hit “[caused] property damage” to the city that “has suffered casualties from rocket fire in the past.”

No militant group in Gaza has claimed to be behind the firing, though the military statement said the “IDF holds Hamas solely responsible for terror emanating from the Gaza Strip.”

While the official military stance is to hold Hamas responsible, a Ynet report quoting an Israeli military official indicated doubts Hamas is to blame, Ma’an said. The official said he does not believe Hamas fired the rocket, telling Ynet: “Hamas still wants to maintain the status quo in the Strip… It continues to grow stronger, but is deterred by the IDF and doesn’t want to face a conflict.”


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