Palestinians dead in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Strip

Palestinians dead in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Strip

Mustafa al-Sawaf, a political analyst close to Hamas, told AFP that the shooting was seen as a reaction to the killing of a number of Hamas fighters by Israeli strikes in recent days. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests started on March 30.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot as Israeli forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians taking part in the "Great March of Return" demonstration.

The Hebrew-language official Israeli TV reported that "it would be different if Hamas responds with shells or rockets". Nonetheless, the fire on the troops at the border was "the most serious incident" since the 2014 conflict, Manelis said, and the IDF's Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had spent the years since then ensuring that the army was ready for "whatever response is necessary".

The soldier was the first member of Israel's army to be killed on the Gaza front since a seven-week 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, a military spokesman said.

Israel Defense Forces launched its latest wave of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday, leaving four Palestinians dead.

"Hamas leaders are forcibly leading us into a situation where we will have no choice, a situation in which we will have to embark on a painful, wide-scale military operation", he said during a visit to the city of Sderot.

"With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between [Israel] and Palestinian factions", said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesperson for the Hamas Islamist group that controls Gaza.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Friday evening of Israel's current escalation policy at the borders of the Gaza Strip, demanding the worldwide community to intervene.

Palestinians are protesting to demand the right to return to homes and villages they fled or were driven from during the conflict surrounding the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

According to the Israeli media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at army headquarters in Tel Aviv to review the situation in Gaza. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.

The truce followed dozens of Israeli strikes on Gaza, which left four Palestinians dead and at least 120 others injured.

"The ceasefire is crucial and shows neither side wants war but it's only temporary reprieve", he said.

Israeli politicians have been calling for a fierce response to the kites and balloons, which have caused damage amounting to millions of shekels (hundreds of thousands of dollars). There have been several small exchanges of fire this week after a shaky truce was reached last weekend, but by Friday that calm had ended.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.

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