Netanyahu says Israel may increase 'intensity' of Gaza air strikes

#GazaUnderAttack

Israeli planes initially targeted three Hamas military positions in Gaza overnight in response to kites dangling coal embers or burning rags

Israeli aircraft fired near Palestinians launching kites in southern Gaza on Wednesday (Reuters)
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Thursday 21 June 2018 14:00 UTC

Israel may step up the "intensity" of military action against Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after a new flare-up that saw Israel carrying out air strikes.

It comes as US President Donald Trump's special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner visit the region to discuss issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Israeli planes initially targeted three Hamas military positions overnight in Gaza in response to kites, balloons and condoms dangling coal embers or burning rags launched into Israel from the Palestinian territory.

"Hamas and other terrorists, but mainly Hamas" hit back after the first air raids with more than 45 rockets and mortar rounds fired from Gaza towards Israel, seven of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

Three more landed inside Israel, he said, but did not account for the remainder.

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Israeli warplanes pound Gaza in response to burning kites

In response, Israeli planes carried out more raids against 25 "terror objectives," including an underground training compound, according to the army.

Medical sources in Gaza said five people were lightly injured in the strikes.

Speaking about Israel's plans regarding Gaza, Netanyahu said he would not go into detail, but said "the intensity will be stepped up as necessary".

"We are prepared for any scenario and our enemies would do well to understand this," he said at a military ceremony in southern Israel.

In a joint statement, the military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed to respond to Israeli attacks, saying they had "targeted seven Israeli military positions near Gaza... in response to continued Israeli aggression against resistance sites in Gaza".

"The equation will be: bombardment in return for bombardment," they said.

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A spokesman for the Israeli fire services told AFP that firefighters had put out 12 blazes in areas adjacent to Gaza that were caused by flaming kites.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Israeli aircraft fired near Palestinians in southern Gaza who were launching kites, and later in the day, aircraft fired near Palestinians attempting to do the same in northern Gaza, a military spokesman told AFP.

Tensions have soared in Gaza since 30 March, when Israel met largely peaceful mass protests near the fence separating Israel from Gaza with lethal force, killing at least 132 Palestinians. There have been no Israeli fatalities.