Israeli Air Strikes Test Gaza Truce

Israel has launched several air strikes on Gaza, killing three Palestinians and wounding several others, prompting Hamas to allege that it violated an unofficial two-day-long truce.

Medics in Gaza said the latest air strike occurred on Wednesday evening, killing 20-year-old Mohammad Moqat. He was a member of the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad.

Israel’s attack came after Palestinian fighters lobbed several rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel in retaliation for an earlier Israeli air strike in the border city of Rafah.

The earlier attack targeted a vehicle carrying Ismael al-Ismar, 34, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement. He was killed.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the strike, saying it had targeted "an activist linked to Islamic Jihad who was implicated in attempted terrorist actions in the Sinai".

A third man of 60 years old was also killed when Israeli forces opened fire near the border.

According to the Israeli military, Ismar had "operated with terror elements in the Gaza Strip which have recently made several attempts to execute terror attacks in the Sinai, on the Israel-Egypt border".

The renewed attacks raised fears of a fresh descent into violence scarcely 48 hours after factions had agreed to end rocket fire on southern Israel, on condition that the Israeli Air Force also stopped its raids.

Shaky Truce

Gaza’s Hamas government accused Israel of violating the unwritten truce with its latest air strikes and called for UN intervention.

A statement issued by Hamas read: "Such aggressive behaviour confirms that Israel has no true intention of maintaining the truce and insists on escalating the situation. We call upon the international community and the United Nations in particular to pressure Israel to stop its aggression against our people."

The latest cycle of violence erupted on Thursday, when gunmen attacked cars and buses on a desert road near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, killing eight in an attack blamed on the Popular Resistance Committees.

In the following days, Israeli air strikes killed 15 Gazans, and armed factions in Gaza lobbed more than 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border, killing one man.

During the hunt for Thursday’s attackers, Israeli troops shot dead three Egyptian policemen – causing a diplomatic rift between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyoum reported that Egyptian authorities have identified three of the people responsible for the attacks in Eliat. The report claims that the attackers were from the Sinai region of Egypt, not Gaza as Israel suspects.

The Israelis and Egyptians are currently conducting an investigation into the matter.

(Agencies via Al Jazeeera)

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