Israel retaliates after Hamas fires dozens of rockets from Gaza


Seven rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defense system, and three failed to make it out of Gaza.

The territory has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which it has fought three wars with Israel.

The IDF believes that extremist elements in Hamas' military wing are mistaken in their assessment not only of the IDF's readiness, but also of the readiness of the Israeli political echelon to launch this large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip that would be as destructive as the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and yield more radical results.

A Hamas spokesman said that, as part of a policy of "bombardment for bombardment", the barrages were retaliation for an earlier Israeli air strike.

About 30 projectiles, including rockets, were fired overnight from Gaza towards Israeli territory.

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Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told CNN that the rockets were a response to previous Israeli shelling.

Israel has been battling large fires caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices or burning rags, launched by Palestinians in Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. Air raid sirens and Israeli phone warning applications sounded throughout the pre-dawn hours.

"The entrance of helium gas into the Gaza Strip will be limited in light of the use of it by terrorists to fill incendiary balloons", Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said.

Thirty Hamas rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Israel first struck after militants sent firebomb kites into Israel, where they've scorched thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in recent weeks.

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Israeli forces have killed more than 120 Palestinians and wounded more than 3,800 during mass demonstrations along the Gaza border since March 30.

Palestinians are angered by what they say is a U.S. bias towards Israel that has ended its role as an impartial mediator in the conflict.

Israel's deadly tactics in confronting the weekly Friday protests have drawn global condemnation.

Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees is "weeks away from painful cuts" to its emergency assistance for Gaza and refugees elsewhere, because of an unprecedented gap in its budget of more than US$250 million (Dh918m), the UN Middle East envoy said Tuesday. The meeting came less than a day after the Jordanian monarch hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a short but rare visit.

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