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For a Month, a Lull. Then Came the 90 Rockets

Reports out of Israel of rockets fired from Gaza Strip, retaliatory airstrikes against Palestinians
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2019 8:00 AM CDT
Israeli soldiers walk by a house hit by a rocket fired from Gaza on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
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(Newser) – Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 90 rockets into southern Israel on Saturday, per the Israeli military, triggering retaliatory airstrikes and tank fire against militant targets in the blockaded enclave and shattering a monthlong lull in violence. Gaza's Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian, Emad Nassir, was killed by an Israeli airstrike. Six other Palestinians sustained injuries from airstrikes and shelling. In Israel, there were no reports of injuries; police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged, per the AP. The sudden outbreak of fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad were in Egypt for talks with mediators aimed at restoring a fraying ceasefire. Hamas leaders have hoped the recent calm would pave the way for a deeper, longer-term ceasefire understanding.

The Israeli military said dozens of rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket-defense system, and that roads near the Gaza border were closed to civilian traffic. The army said its chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, convened an emergency session with top security officials. The European Union's ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, sharply criticized the rocket attacks on Twitter, saying "firing indiscriminately against civilians [is] unacceptable." Tensions have been rising in recent days amid allegations from Hamas that Israel has been delaying implementation of last month's ceasefire understandings. On Friday, two Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces during the weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. Palestinian militants also shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers along the border fence; no group claimed responsibility for the shooting. In response, Israeli aircraft carried out retaliatory strikes, killing two Hamas militants. (Read more Israel stories.)

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