Israeli jets carry out raids on Gaza

#Occupation

Hundreds of people in Gaza are reportedly fleeing after air strikes amid tensions along border with Israel

An Israeli air strike over Gaza City during Israel's offensive on the enclave in 2014 (AFP)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 4 May 2016 20:40 UTC
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Israeli warplanes launched several raids against the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a day of tensions along the border with Israel, the Interior Ministry of the Palestinian territory said.

Air strikes hit around Gaza's defunct international airport near the southern city of Rafah and in nearby farming areas, without causing casualties, said the ministry, which is run by Hamas.

Israel's army said it had hit five sites operated by Hamas.

Middle East Eye's Gaza contributor, Mohammed Omer, reported that "hundreds of families are fleeing their homes," a scene he said reminded him of the Israeli offensive against the enclave in 2014.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner tweeted that Israel "will continue to operate in order to protect the civilians of Israel from all Hamas terrorist threats above & beneath ground".

The border between Israel and Gaza - the flashpoint of the 2014 conflict - saw a further bout of violence on Wednesday, with Israeli tanks firing into the enclave in what Israel said was a response to mortar fire.

One of the targets was a Hamas watchtower in the Shujaiyya neighbourhood east of Gaza City, the Maan News Agency reported.

Gaza’s Ministry of Education evacuated two nearby schools - Subhi Abu Karsh and Beit Dajan - after the shelling.

There were no reported injuries and no claims of responsibility for the mortar fire.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian group, released separate statements warning Israel against any escalation along the border.

"Hamas holds the Israeli occupation completely responsible for the escalation east of Gaza and the consequences of it," spokesman Sami Abu Zahri said.

"The movement calls on the concerned parties to shoulder their responsibility to stop this aggression and Israeli crimes."

The violence puts pressure on a ceasefire that has mostly held since the hostilities in Gaza ended in summer 2014.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all projectiles fired from the Strip, though they are largely fired by other groups. Hamas has not claimed responsibility for a rocket attack since the end of the 2014 war.