Israel says air strikes hit Hamas 'underground complex' in Gaza

AFP , AP , Ahram Online , Monday 13 Feb 2023

Israel hit Gaza with air strikes on Monday in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave at the weekend, the army said, as unrest persisted in the occupied West Bank.

Gaza air strikes
Palestinians inspect a destroyed wedding hall following Israeli strikes in Gaza City, early on February 13, 2023. AFP


The Palestinian Red Crescent said one person was killed in a predawn Israeli army raid in Nablus in the northern West Bank, the scene of near-relentless violence over the past year.

The army did not immediately comment on the Nablus raid.

But in Gaza, the military claimed it had struck "an underground complex containing raw materials used for the manufacturing of rockets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organisation".

The strikes were launched "in response to the Saturday rocket launch from Gaza into Israel", the army added in a statement.

Following the Israeli strikes, air raid sirens sounded in communities near the Gaza border, the military said.

Photos show Palestinians inspecting a destroyed wedding hall, early Monday, following the Israeli strikes on the city.

There were no reported casualties in Gaza following the latest round of missile fire.

But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is enduring a dramatic increase in violence.

Since the start of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 47 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians, following the latest death in Nablus.

Nine Israeli adults and children and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

In a move likely to inflame tensions, Israel's security cabinet announced last week it would legalise nine West Bank Jewish settlements claiming that many of the newly authorised communities had existed for years but had not previously been recognised as legitimate by Israel's government.

The security cabinet also said it intended to announce a new round of settler housing construction in the West Bank, a step likely to draw widespread international condemnation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned against settlement expansion in a trip to the region last month.

Since 1967, the government has built 58,000 homes for Israeli settlers in the eastern part of the city, and fewer than 600 for Palestinians, said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer specializing in the geopolitics of Jerusalem, citing the government's statistics bureau and his own analysis. In that time, the city's Palestinian population has soared by 400 percent.

"The planning regime is dictated by the calculus of national struggle,'' Seidemann said.

Israel's city plans show state parks encircling the Old City, with some 60 percent of Jabal Mukaber zoned as green space, off-limits to Palestinian development. At least 20,000 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem are now slated for demolition, watchdogs say.

While there are no reliable figures for permit approvals, the Israeli municipality set aside just over 7 percent of its 21,000 housing plans for Palestinian homes in 2019, reported Ir Amim, an anti-settlement advocacy group. Palestinians are nearly 40 percent of the city's roughly 1 million people.

"This is the purpose of this policy,'' said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Ir Amim. "Palestinians are forced to leave Jerusalem."

On Sunday, at the Arab League's (AL) 'Jerusalem Support' conference in Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called "on the international community and peace partners not to give in to the current political stalemate and work together to implement the two-state solution and provide appropriate conditions for resuming the peace process between Palestine and Israel.”

The conference was attended by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II along with high-level representation from Arab, regional and international bodies.

On Thursday, ​Egypt received a Palestinian delegation from the Gaza Strip led by prominent members of the Islamic Jihad Movement.

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