At a glance
- Israel launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip in response to a series of rocket attacks which began on Thursday
- Israel struck an underground rocket factory which belonged to Hamas, a Islamist group
- Tensions continue to escalate, with the danger of a full-fledged conflict always close
- In the West Bank, nine people have been killed, including two civilians, during a shooting incident
- 29 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank this month alone
- Peace talks have been called for by both sides, with the hope of de-escalating the violence
Israel launches air strike on Gaza Strip
Early on Friday morning, air raid sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the Gaza border as Israel launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip in response to a series of rocket attacks which began on Thursday.
The Israel Defence Forces said they struck an underground rocket factory which belonged to Hamas, a Islamist group.
Three rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences, and one fell short of the border, while the other landed in an open area.
Israel’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said they were preparing for more air strikes “if necessary”.
Restrained response suggests sides don’t want to escalate conflict
Despite the violent exchange of fire, the restrained response from both sides suggests neither side wants to escalate the conflict any further.
A major Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank occurred the day before, on Thursday, following a shooting incident which killed nine people, including two civilians.
The raid marked the first security crisis for newly-formed Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-Right government. Palestinian leaders have accused Israeli forces of firing tear gas into a children’s ward during the raid.
It is unclear what influence this incident will have on the current peace talks.
Recent events mark a month of unprecedented violence
Israel last year launched a major operation called “Break The Wave,” an offensive targeting Islamic Jihad militants in the northern part of the West Bank.
29 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank this month alone, and last year saw the deadliest levels of casualties in the region since 2005.
One particular raid in Jenin, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, in December, saw an Israeli soldier shoot and kill a 15-year-old girl.
Both sides of the conflict are calling for a de-escalation of violence and a renewed commitment to peace talks, but it is unclear if or when that will happen.
Israel and Hamas have been in intermittent conflict since the latter seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and with tensions continuing to escalate the danger of a full-fledged conflict is never far away.
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