Israel and Hamas attacks intensify

Gaza crisis

Palestinian militants have fired more rockets at Israeli cities after Israel carried out dozens of overnight air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel said it had intercepted eight rockets over Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Ashdod on Wednesday morning.

Medical officials in Gaza said one man had been killed in an Israeli air strike on a motorcycle.

The health ministry in Gaza says at least 25 Palestinians have been killed and 70 hurt in the recent hostilities.

The ministry said four women and three children were among the dead.

The military wing of Hamas has warned that all Israelis are now targets.

Israel has said it will expand its campaign against Hamas.

‘Huge price’

Israel’s military said that overnight it had targeted 118 concealed rocket launchers, 10 Hamas command-and-control centres and 10 tunnels.

It brought to 440 the number of targets in Gaza attacked as part of “Operation Protective Edge”.

The military said 117 rockets had hit Israel on Tuesday, with the Iron Dome interceptor system shooting down 20. Three rockets landed around Jerusalem.

Iron Dome intercepted two more rockets above Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, three over Ashkelon and three over Ashdod.

The town of Hadera 100km (60 miles) north of Gaza, was also attacked, with an M-302 surface-to-surface rocket, the furthest target so far reached.

Officials in Gaza said an Israeli attack killed an unidentified man on a motorcycle on Wednesday.

Israel said it had targeted Islamic Jihad member Abdullah Diyfallah.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Wednesday that the campaign against Hamas would expand in the next few days and “exact a huge price”.

Israel has warned it may send ground troops into Gaza. It has authorised the call-up of up to 40,000 military reservists. Hundreds of reservists have already been drafted.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed that the situation was more one of escalation than de-escalation.

He told the BBC that efforts to try to calm the situation had failed as Hamas had continued to fire rockets, and the Israeli army was “now acting to put an end to this” by “dismantling Hamas’s military machine”.

“We don’t want to have some sort of band-aid solution whereby we have a quick fix, a ceasefire and then we only have rockets on Israeli citizens next week,” he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel immediately stop the raids on Gaza and appealed for calm.

Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Israel had violated the Egyptian-brokered truce that ended exchanges in 2012.

“In the face of this aggression, we affirm that the Zionist enemy should not dream of calm and stability,” he said.

‘No safe haven’

The head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, Raji Sourani, accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians.

He told the BBC: “There is no safe haven in this place and Palestinian civilians are once again in the eye of the storm and are paying heavily. Israelis.. are trying to pressure militant groups through targeting civilians.”

Tensions rose last week with the murders of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

Israel says Hamas was behind the abduction and murder of the Israeli youths – a claim it denies.

A day after their funerals, the Palestinian youth was abducted in East Jerusalem and murdered. Police have arrested six Jewish suspects and say it seems the 16-year-old was killed because of his nationality.