Israeli forces launch air strike on Gaza, explosions reported | News

The military attack, announced on Twitter, was followed by reports of warplanes and explosions across the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s military launched an attack on Gaza late on Thursday night, shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a video statement promising that his country’s enemies would “pay a price for any aggression”.

The Israeli military attack was followed by reports of explosions across Gaza as warplanes flew overhead. No casualties or injuries have been reported so far, but multiple sites were targeted in the missile strike, according to initial media reports.

They include agricultural land in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, two sites south of Gaza City, farmland east of the Al-Zaitoun neighbourhood near Gaza City and a site east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military has said it struck two tunnels and two weapons facilities in Gaza. The AFP news agency said a Palestinian security source indicated that Hamas training sites were hit in the attack.

Rockets from Gaza were fired in response. On Twitter, the Israeli army also said that air raid sirens went off in southern Israel.

Netanyahu was reportedly in a Security Cabinet meeting as the air attack unfolded. Among the topics under discussion were reports of the rocket fire Israel had recently received.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu issued a brief statement. “Israel’s response, tonight and beyond, will extract a heavy price from our enemies,” it read. Israel has blamed the Palestinian group Hamas for the rocket fire.

Hamas, meanwhile, responded to the air attacks with a statement: “We hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the grave escalation and the flagrant aggression against the Gaza Strip and for the consequences that will bring onto the region.”

A city skyline with explosions seen lighting up the night sky.
Smoke rising behind buildings in Gaza on April 6 [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

The attack on Gaza, a blockaded Palestinian enclave on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, comes after the Israeli military said rockets were fired from the strip into southern Israel for a second straight day.

The rocket fire comes amid ongoing tensions over the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli troops, who fired stun grenades, attacked Palestinian worshippers and expelled them from the holy site as they gathered for Ramadan prayers.

The Muslim holy month this year coincides with Passover, a key holiday in the Jewish calendar.

Early on Wednesday, Israeli authorities said they fielded four missiles from Gaza in response to the two raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli planes then launched attacks on Gaza, hitting a target in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the centre of the strip as well as two sites west of Gaza City.

Israel’s military said it had received more rocket fire from Gaza on Thursday morning. No casualties were reported, however.

Also on Thursday, Israel claimed it came under rocket fire from Lebanon for the first time since last April. The 34 reported rockets mark the biggest launch since Israel’s 34-day war with Hezbollah forces in 2006.

Five landed in Israeli territory, according to a tweet from the Israeli army, while 25 others were intercepted. Four additional launches, it added, were “under review”.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said Israel responded by firing a burst of artillery back across the border. No deaths were reported there either, though Israel’s emergency services claimed one man was hit with shrapnel and a woman was injured while seeking shelter.

Israel has indicated that the rocket fire from Lebanon originated from Hamas or another Gaza-based group.

“It’s a Palestinian-oriented event,” Israeli military spokesperson Richard Hecht said.

Tamir Hayman, a former Israeli head of military intelligence, offered his assessment on Twitter: “What we saw was widespread Palestinian shooting from Lebanon. It’s not Hezbollah shooting, but it’s hard to believe that Hezbollah didn’t know about it.”

Hezbollah did not respond immediately to the accusations. Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Mikati did condemn the rocket fires from its side of the border.

A plume of flames rises from an explosion at night
A plume of smoke and flames rising from Gaza on April 6, 2023 [Bashar Talib/Reuters]

Netanyahu issued a statement on Twitter earlier on Thursday announcing Israel would “cripple its enemies” in the wake of the rocket fire. He added that those “enemies” would discover that, when tested, Israelis would “stand united and support the actions of the IDF [Israel’s army] and other security forces to protect our country and its citizens”.

The United States has urged “restraint” amid the tensions on Thursday, with State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel saying: “Any unilateral action that jeopardises the status quo to us is unacceptable.”

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