Flare-Up in Gaza Fighting Jangles Nerves in Israel

First Tit-for-Tat Rocket and Air Strikes Since War

As demonstrations flared in the West Bank over a Palestinian prisoner’s death, Israel also traded attacks with militants in Gaza. It was the first major outbreak of violence there since the conflict last year.
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As demonstrations flared in the West Bank over a Palestinian prisoner’s death, Israel also traded attacks with militants in Gaza. It was the first major outbreak of violence there since the conflict last year.

By Reuters

Published April 03, 2013.
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Spillover from the civil war in Syria - mortar and machinegun fire toward Israeli troops in the occupied Golan Heights - has also heightened Israeli concern.

“We will absolutely not allow any sporadic fire toward our citizens and our forces,” Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement, referring to the situations on the frontiers with both Gaza and Syria.

Israeli tanks fired at a Syrian post on Tuesday after one such incident in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war. Israel’s military said it was unclear whether rebels or forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were manning the position.

In Gaza, Hamas has at times cracked down on hardline Islamist Salafi groups, seeing them as a threat to the stability of the impoverished, Israeli-blockaded territory.

But Hamdeya’s death touched a nerve among Palestinians, who regard their brethren in Israeli jails as heroes in the fight for statehood.

Palestinian officials accused Israel of failing to provide timely medical care for Hamdeya, who died in an Israeli hospital before a procedure for his early release on medical grounds was completed.

Israel denied negligence in treating Hamdeya, who was serving a life term over an attempt to blow up an Israeli cafe in Jerusalem in 2002 during a Palestinian uprising.

Commenting on the Gaza situation, Richard Serry, the U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said it was of “paramount importance to refrain from violence”.

He said in a statement that renewed violations of the ceasefire threatened to unravel Egyptian-brokered understandings that included an easing of Israel’s restrictions on imports into the Gaza Strip.

Egypt mediated the truce after fighting in which some 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed. Israel launched its Gaza offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007 after winning an election a year earlier.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the enclave along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war.


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