Rockets hit Israel after fighting flares in Gaza

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 09, 2011 1:01 PM
Rockets hit Israel after fighting flares in Gaza

Palestinian militants fired at least 11 rockets into Israel on Friday after an airstrike against a Hamas target in Gaza that killed a Palestinian civilian and his 12-year-old son.

The rockets landed in Israeli territory but caused no casualties, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Air-raid sirens and bomb shelters have helped keep civilian casualties low in southern Israel over years of rocket fire from Gaza.

The latest exchange followed several days of violence in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Earlier Friday, Israel carried out multiple airstrikes against Hamas facilities. One damaged a house next to a targeted site, killing 42-year-old civilian Bahajat Zaalan and wounding several members of his family, according to Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmia. One of the wounded, Zaalan's son Ramadan, died of his injuries later Friday, the official said.

Other houses were damaged by fire or shrapnel and a total of 25 people were wounded, Abu Salmia said.

Israel's military released a statement Friday expressing regret for harm to bystanders but blaming Hamas for choosing "to operate while embedded within a civilian population, using them as a human shield to protect their actions."

The military said the civilians were not directly harmed by the airstrikes but by the explosion of rockets stored at the sites that were hit.

On Wednesday, an Israeli airstrike hit a group of militants in Gaza, killing one and wounding two others. Israel said it targeted militant squads preparing to fire rockets into southern Israel.

And on Thursday, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a car near a crowded park in Gaza City, killing two militants, including a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and wounding five bystanders. Israel says the militants were planning to infiltrate Israel to carry out attacks.

The strikes Thursday touched off rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.

In Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned what he called an "unjustified and serious escalation by the Zionist enemy."

Speaking Friday at a Gaza City mosque, he said Egypt was helping to mediate an end to the latest round of fighting.

In the West Bank Friday, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at a weekly demonstration of about 100 Palestinians, hitting one protester in the head with a gas canister, said Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli activist who joined the rally.

He identified the protester as Mustafa Tamimi and said he was severely injured.

The weekly rallies in the village of Nabi Saleh are in protest of Jewish settlement activity in the area.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers treated the Palestinian man at the scene before taking him to an Israeli hospital for further treatment.

The military is investigating the incident, the army spokeswoman said.