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Israel bombs Gaza and warns of new military campaign

Israeli warplanes and tanks struck the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after the army said Palestinians opened fire on a border patrol
Gaza has not recovered from the summer destruction unleashed by Israel's military assault (AFP)

Israeli officials warned on Wednesday of a new military onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel may wage a full-scale military campaign in the Gaza Strip aimed at destroying Hamas' military and institutional infrastructure if the latter continued to "undermine" security along the border with Israel, Israeli radio reported.

The comments came after Israeli warplanes and tanks launched strikes earlier in the day on the coastal enclave, the second wave of attacks in a week since their brutal 51-day military offensive on the Palestinian enclave ended in August.

Israel said the fresh strikes on Gaza came “in response to firing at our forces” and confirmed the army had “carried out immediate attacks against the relevant targets” that included air strikes and tank fire.

The Israeli army said Palestinians had fired on one of their patrols along the border fence earlier in the morning. An Israeli soldier was said to have been seriously wounded by the shooting.

Palestinian medics said a Hamas fighter was killed and several Palestinians wounded near the border fence.

Israeli media named the slain Palestinian as 33-year-old Tayseer al-Ismary and cited Hamas sources as having confirmed him as a member of the movement’s military wing - the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel's Army Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz said the military had "no intention to allow events [attacks] such as this to occur unanswered."

Gantz was quoted by the Ynet news website as saying that the army had "responded appropriately and we will act in the appropriate and powerful manner as any incident demands."

On 19 December Israeli planes bombed “a Hamas installation” in Gaza after a rocket was fired from the coastal territory, according to Haaretz.

Hamas responded to the attacks last week by describing them as a “stupid act” and warning Israel against further bombing raids. The group also urged the international community to bring an end to “aggression” against the Palestinian people.

Israel’s summer assault on Gaza killed over 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 72 Israelis, mostly soldiers. 

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