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Tensions escalate in Gaza as Israeli shelling kills Palestinian woman

May 5, 2016 1:49 P.M. (Updated: May 6, 2016 2:45 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Tensions continued to escalate in the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, with reports of one Palestinian woman killed by Israeli shelling, as Israeli forces said airstrikes were in response to Palestinian resistance groups targeting its troops with mortar rounds.

Medical sources told Ma'an that a Palestinian woman in her fifties, identified as Jana Aytah al-Amur, was killed by Israeli shelling on Thursday evening in the al-Fakhari area east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson said they could not confirm the case.

Medical sources also said that an Israeli airstrike injured a Palestinian woman, identified as 21-year-old Khazima al-Farra, in the al-Rayyan area in eastern Rafah.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli F-16 jets launched several rockets in the southern Gaza Strip at around 5 p.m., hitting agricultural land in the Abu al-Rus area in eastern Rafah.

An Israeli army statement issued at 5:48 p.m. read: "In response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, IAF (Israeli airforce) aircraft targeted four Hamas military posts in the southern Gaza Strip."

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma'an that at least eight alleged Hamas locations had been targeted by airstrikes since Wednesday night. They added that they were unaware of airstrikes occurring after 6 p.m.

Four Palestinians, including three children, were injured earlier in the day when Israeli forces carried out several airstrikes across the small Palestinian territory, one of which hit a metal workshop in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood southeast of Gaza City. The strike injured 65-year-old Hassan Hassanien and three children from the family, who were all taken to the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Israeli forces also carried out several airstrikes in an open area of Jabal al-Sorani east of Gaza City.

The southern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya was also struck by two Israeli rockets, which destroyed a location allegedly being used by the Hamas movement.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army reported that mortar rounds had been fired at its troops near the Gaza border on Thursday afternoon, adding that there were no injuries. It claimed that this was the 10th incident of the sort since Tuesday.

Thursday's violence followed an Israeli aerial offensive earlier on Wednesday evening, which targeted an area near a destroyed airport in the southwestern town of Rafah, which Israeli forces claimed was being used by Hamas.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that airstrikes were carried out from Wednesday evening until three or four in the morning on Thursday.

A statement released by the Israeli army on Thursday morning claimed that the airstrikes were in response to ongoing violence along the border areas between the Gaza Strip and Israel, adding that the strikes targeted four Hamas “terrorist infrastructure sites” in the northern Gaza Strip overnight.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri urged all parties to accept their responsibilities and end the aggression on Gaza in a press statement released on Wednesday, adding that Israeli crimes would not “break the spirit of the Palestinian people.”

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov expressed his concern over the increasing tensions in the besieged enclave, urging all participants to “exercise maximum restraint” and to take all necessary measures to “prevent the risk of escalation.”

Israeli forces also announced on Thursday that they had uncovered a tunnel in southern Gaza, which they said may cross under the security fence between the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.

This latest incursion into the Gaza Strip came only a few hours after Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouq, announced that Egypt was mediating peace efforts to restore the 2014 truce negotiated between Israel and the Gaza Strip following a devastating Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory.
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