The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Breaking News

April 3, 2013

Israel, Gaza launch heaviest strikes since truce

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants launched several rockets into southern Israel, as Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday in the heaviest exchange of fire between the sides since they agreed to an internationally brokered cease-fire in November.

There were no casualties reported, but the violence nonetheless threatened to shatter the calm that has prevailed for more than four months and prompted Israel's new defense minister to warn that the Jewish state will not sit back if militants attack the south of the country.

"We will not allow shooting of any sort (even sporadic) toward our citizens and our forces," Moshe Yaalon, a former military chief of staff, said in a statement.

Although there was no claim of responsibility for the rockets fired from Gaza early Wednesday, Yaalon said he holds the Islamic militant group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, responsible for all such attacks from the seaside strip.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas last November in response to an increase in rocket fire out of Gaza. During eight days of fighting, Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza, while Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. More than 160 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis were killed in the fighting before Egypt brokered a truce.

In recent weeks, there have been a handful of rocket attacks, including one that took place as President Barack Obama was visiting Israel two weeks ago. Overnight Wednesday, Israel responded for the first time by striking a pair of empty fields in northern and eastern Gaza.

But just around the time Yaalon was speaking on Wednesday morning, two more rockets exploded in the Israeli border town of Sderot, according to police. Air raid sirens sounded throughout the town, forcing people on their way to work and school to take cover. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli military said a total of five rockets had been fired in the past 24 hours, including two that exploded prematurely inside Gaza.

Under the cease-fire, Israel pledged to halt its policy of attacking militant leaders and to ease a blockade it has imposed on Gaza since the Hamas takeover in 2007. Hamas pledged to halt rocket attacks on Israel. A number of smaller militant groups also operate in Gaza, including groups that draw inspiration from the al-Qaida global terror network.

U.N. Mideast envoy Robert Serry appealed for calm in a statement, saying he is "worried" tensions could threaten the informal truce. "It is of paramount importance to refrain from violence in this tense atmosphere and for parties to work constructively in addressing the underlying issues," he said.

Ihab Ghussein, the Hamas government spokesman, accused Israel of using the airstrikes to "divert the attention" from unrest in Israeli prisons. "They think that through escalation on Gaza front they can hide the truth," he said, and urged Egypt, the guarantor of the cease-fire, to intervene.

Palestinian prisoners have been rioting and hunger striking since a 64-year-old prisoner died of throat cancer on Tuesday. The Palestinians have blamed Israel for the man's death, saying he was not given proper medical care. The prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, had been serving a life sentence for his role in a foiled attempt to bomb a busy cafe in Jerusalem in 2002.

Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said the army was on alert for "riots" in the West Bank ahead of an autopsy planned later in the day. He accused the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, of exploiting the death to "resume popular protests."

At protests across the West Bank Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and rolled burning tires at soldiers, prompting a response with tear gas, the Israeli military said.

In Ramallah, protesters waved pictures of the man that succumbed to cancer and chanted "with our souls and blood we will redeem the prisoner."

Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Abu Hamdiyeh was treated by Israeli specialists and died in a hospital in Beersheba. She said the prison service asked the parole board to release Abu Hamdiyeh last week after his cancer was diagnosed as terminal last, but the appeal was still being processed at the time of his death.

Weizman said almost all of the 4,600 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel refused their breakfasts Wednesday morning in a symbolic act of protest.

As news of Abu Hamdiyeh's death spread Tuesday, Palestinian prisoners in several jails began banging on their cell doors and hurling objects. Later, protests spread to Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank where protesters hurled fire bombs and rocks at soldiers.

Tensions are high in Israeli lockups, where thousands of Palestinian security prisoners are being held. Some have staged hunger strikes and Palestinians have held large protests demanding their release.

After decades of conflict with Israel, the issue of prisoners is emotionally charged in Palestinian society. The Palestinians revere the prisoners as standing up to Israeli occupation. In Israel, the prisoners, who are serving time for crimes ranging from stone throwing to mass murder, are seen as terrorists.

In a separate development, Israel's defense minister issued a tough warning to battling forces in Syria, saying Israel would respond to any cross-border provocations.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military said a mortar shell exploded on its side of the frontier in the Golan Heights. The military said its soldiers returned the fire and said it scored a direct hit. Mortar shells and machine gun fire have sporadically hit Israeli territory in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights since Syria descended into civil war following its March 2011 uprising.

"Israel has no intention of ignoring fire from Syria toward Israeli territory, incidental or not, and will respond with a firm hand," Yaalon said. "As far as we are concerned, the Syrian regime is to be held responsible for everything happening in its territory."

Israel, which has warily watched the fighting in Syria raging close to its frontier, is concerned that some of the al-Qaida affiliated groups fighting alongside the rebels against the Syrian government forces could set their sights on Israel when the civil war ends.

Syria has kept its frontier with Israel quiet for most of the past 40 years, even while providing support and refugee for Israel's bitterest enemies, including the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

    For nearly two months, images of immigrant children who have crossed the border without a parent, only to wind up in concrete holding cells once in United States, have tugged at heartstrings. Yet most Americans now say U.S. law should be changed so they can be sent home quickly, without a deportation hearing.

    July 29, 2014

  • NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races

    NASCAR suspended Denny Hamlin's crew chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    July 29, 2014

  • Avoiding plane crashes as air traffic doubles

    More travelers are flying than ever before, creating a daunting challenge for airlines: keep passengers safe in an ever more crowded airspace.

    July 29, 2014

  • Report: More acidic seawater poses risks in Alaska

    The release of carbon dioxide into the air from power plant smokestacks to the tailpipe on your car could pose a risk to red king crab and other lucrative fisheries in Alaska, a new report says.

    July 29, 2014

  • 'Pawn Stars' TV star plans stores near famous shop

    The long parade of tourists who regularly stop by the downtown Las Vegas shop featured on the History Channel reality show "Pawn Stars" could soon have something better to do while waiting in line.

    July 29, 2014

  • Soldiers get $92M in debt relief under settlement

    Thirteen states, including Indiana, have settled an investigation into improper lending with a court agreement that is expected to provide $92 million in debt relief for 17,800 U.S. military personnel.

    July 29, 2014

  • NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports.

    July 29, 2014

  • House-Senate negotiators approve $17B VA bill

    House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans' long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • Indiana BMV asks court to delay vanity plate sales The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has asked the state Supreme Court for permission to continue its suspension on sales of vanity plates until a court case is settled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 29, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Now that Andrew Luck is getting ready to start the third year of his NFL career, did the Colts make the right decision to release Peyton Manning and turn the offense over to Luck?

Yes, the future is bright.
No, the Colts would have won another Super Bowl by now if they had kept Manning.
Don't know; don't care
     View Results