Gaza militants fire barrage of mortars at southern Israel
May 29 2018 10:45 AM
Gaza border
People stand in a kindergarten yard damaged by mortar shells, on the Israeli-Gaza border on Tuesday.

AFP/Jerusalem

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of mortar shells at southern Israel on Tuesday, the army said, causing no injuries but raising tensions in the border area.
A statement from the Israeli army said that "25 mortar shells were launched towards several sites in Israeli territory." 
"Most of the launches were intercepted by the IDF's (Israel Defence Forces) Iron Dome aerial defence system," the army said.
Police said that "a number of the mortars landed in open areas inside Israel," with no injuries reported.
Two further mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza after the initial barrage, the army said.
One mortar shell exploded near a kindergarten building, a military spokesman said. No children were believed to be there at the time.
It appeared to be the largest projectile barrage from Gaza targeting Israel since a 2014 war.
Palestinian security sources said Israeli tanks struck observation points belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad near the border. An Israeli military spokesman said he was not aware.
The mortar fire follows deadly mass protests and clashes that began along the Gaza border on March 30.
The protests have called for Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
They peaked on May 14, when at least 61 Palestinians were killed as tens of thousands of Gazans protested and clashes erupted on the same day of the US transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Demonstrations and clashes have continued at a low level since then. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.
Israel says its actions are necessary to defend its borders and accuses Hamas of encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis.
On Monday, Gaza's health ministry said one Palestinian was killed by tank fire at an observation point. Israel said it had fired at it after two Palestinians attempted to infiltrate the border fence with the "intention of carrying out an attack." The two were arrested.
There was also machine gun fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel later on Monday, the military said.
A day earlier, a tank targeted an Islamic Jihad observation point in response to an explosive device being placed on the border fence.
Three members of the militant group were killed, and there was speculation that the Tuesday mortar fire may have been Islamic Jihad's response.

Last updated: May 29 2018 02:42 PM


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