Renewed Gaza rocket fire after overnight Israeli raids
Published Thursday 13/03/2014 (updated) 14/03/2014 17:09
GAZA BORDER, Israel (AFP) -- Gaza militants resumed their rocket fire on southern Israel on Thursday, after warplanes blitzed the coastal enclave, prompting President Mahmoud Abbas to demand Israel end its "escalation".
A military spokeswoman told AFP that militants had fired five rockets but only one struck Israeli territory, causing no harm or damage.
Earlier, an AFP photographer on the Israeli side of the Gaza border said all was quiet at daybreak.
The spokeswoman said the total number of rockets which had struck southern Israel since the escalation began on Wednesday was "over 60", with five of them hitting populated areas.
Overnight, Israeli warplanes carried out raids on 29 targets in Gaza, hitting bases used by militants from Gaza's ruling Hamas movement and from Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the al-Quds Brigade.
The strikes, which began at around 8.30 p.m. Wednesday, prompted a sharp rebuke from Abbas who demanded Israel "put an end to its military escalation in the besieged Gaza Strip," his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Thursday.
By Wednesday evening, Islamic Jihad claimed it had fired at least 90 rockets at Israel in response to an air strike on Tuesday that killed three of its militants in southern Gaza, which took place after they had fired a mortar at Israeli troops in the area.
The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the National Resistance Brigades, claimed to have fired 30 homemade missiles and a number of mortar shells at southern Israel.
The PFLP's military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, and two offshoots of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades also fired missiles at Israel on Wednesday, a statement from the DFLP said.
The rocket salvos, which sent tens of thousands of Israelis running for shelter, marked the biggest wave of attacks since a major eight-day November 2012 confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
There have been no reports of casualties on either side.
Despite the escalation, schools were operating as normal on Thursday, the military said.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report