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Israeli warplanes bomb Hamas ‘military sites’ in Gaza

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Palestine: Israeli warplanes have carried out air raids at several locations after midnight on Friday in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket fired from the besieged Palestinian enclave that hit southern Israel.

Fighter jets and attack helicopters struck a “weapons manufacturing site, a weapon smuggling tunnel and a military post” operated by Hamas, the movement which governs Gaza, the Israeli military said in a statement on Friday.

“We will not tolerate any threat to Israeli civilians,” it added. A security source in Gaza told news agencies there were no casualties from the series of attacks after midnight.

Palestinian Maan news agency reported on Friday that the Israeli attack started with artillery shelling east of Juhr al-Dik, a town in central Gaza. It added that missiles and drones targeted different sites, including agricultural lands in the southeastern neighbourhood of Al-Zaytoun and east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Sirens sounded a warning in the border town of Sderot late on Thursday after a rocket was fired from Gaza, according to the Israeli military. A city spokesperson said the projectile landed on open ground outside the city. There were no reports of injuries or damage to property, he said.

The latest attack comes weeks after the Israeli military carried out night-time raids against Hamas positions in the southern part of the Strip.

Palestinian groups, including Hamas, have called on Israel to end its 14-year crippling land, sea and air blockade on the enclave – home to two million people.

The United Nations has dubbed Gaza an “open-air prison” with residents enduring extreme poverty amid conditions that have worsened since the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in recent years as they protested against the blockade, which Israel has justified on security grounds.

A fragile truce has held in recent years despite occasional flareups, with Palestinians firing rockets at Israel and Israel responding with air raids on the coastal enclave.