Woman killed, 15 others injured as Hamas launches rocket barrages on Israel

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Palestinian gunmen infiltrated parts of southern Israel while over 5,000 rocket barrages were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday, Hamas’ armed wing said, declaring the initiation of “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”, AFP reported.

One person in Kfar Aviv was injured when their vehicle was hit as a result of the attack, and a building in southern Ashkelon was damaged, Haaretz reported.

A woman, who was in her 60s, was critically wounded by a rocket attack on southern Israel and later died. Additionally, 15 others were injured in the central Israeli city of Ramle, one lightly and two seriously.

The Israeli army sounded sirens across the country’s south and central areas, urging the public to stay near bomb shelters, followed by rockets streaming across the sky repeatedly after the first launches from multiple locations across Gaza at 06:30am (0330 GMT).

The armed wing of Palestinian group Hamas said it was behind the fire, claiming its fighters had launched more than 5,000 rockets.

“We decided to put an end to all the crimes of the occupation (Israel), their time for rampaging without being held accountable is over,” the group said. “We announce Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and we fired, in the first strike of 20 minutes, more than 5,000 rockets.”

Israel’s military said Hamas was behind “a combined attack, including the firing of rockets and terrorist infiltrations into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.”

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the premier will shortly convene security chiefs over the violence.

Decade-long protests

Israel has imposed a severe blockade on Gaza since 2007, leading to multiple wars between Palestinian fighters and Israel. The latest fire occurred in September, following a two-week closure of the border to Gazan workers due to Palestinian protests.

Protesters used tire burning, rocks, and petrol bombs against Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas and live bullets. Critics criticised the border closure as collective punishment against Palestinian workers, who have higher earning potential in Israel than in Gaza.

Resuming their passage on September 28 had raised hopes of calming the situation in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people. In May, an exchange of Israeli air strikes and Gaza rocket fire resulted in the deaths of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.

So far this year at least 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners have been killed in the conflict, including combatants and civilians on both sides, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The majority of fatalities have occurred in West Bank which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. Army raids, Palestinian attacks, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property have surged in the area. Far-right Israeli ministers reside in illegal West Bank settlements.

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