Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza Strip in Response to Attacks

Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 11:54 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Responding to a barrage of rockets launched a day earlier, Israeli warplanes hit 29 Gaza Strip targets Thursday, striking Hamas leaders and the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.

BBC News reported that militants shot about 60 rockets into Israel as of Wednesday, eight of which hit populated urban areas, while several others were picked off by the country's Iron Dome missile defense system. 

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"In response to the massive rocket attack that hit Israel earlier this evening, the Israel Air Force targeted 29 terror sites in the Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed," Israeli officials told Agence France-Presse.

"This retaliation was precise and prompt," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. "We targeted the infrastructure that serves the terrorists while they train, plan and implement their hideous attacks. They will not be permitted to conspire in the safety of their terrorist temples."

Islamic Jihad representatives told BBC News that they shot rockets at Israel in retaliation for Tuesday's killing of three of its members. The airstrike marked the largest Islamic Jihad missile barrage since the November 2012 conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The rising tensions came shortly after British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Israel for his first official visit since taking office in 2010. Israel said that the rocket attack followed the length of Israel's border with Gaza.

"If there won't be quiet in the south [of Israel] there will be noise in Gaza, and this is an understatement," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the Gaza attack.

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told AFP that continued escalations between Israel and Gaza could lead to the country to reoccupying it after Israel removed its forces and settlers in 2005.

"Following an attack like this — a barrage of more than 50 rockets — there is no alternative to a full reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip," Lieberman told Israel's Channel 2.

In turn, the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, said that they will continue to respond to what they called Israeli "aggressing," as it is "the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself."

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