Israel responds to shooting attack with strike on Hamas post

AP News
Posted: Jan 15, 2017 6:50 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military struck a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday in response to a Palestinian attack on an Israeli military vehicle, the military said.

No one was wounded in the exchange but it marked a rare flare-up along the tense border that has remained largely quiet since a bloody 50-day war between Israel and Gaza militants in the summer of 2014.

Despite the cease-fire that has largely held since, militants in Gaza occasionally launch rockets toward Israel. These are mostly by smaller factions rather than the ruling Hamas militants but Israel typically responds to any fire toward it and holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory it controls.

While neither side appears interested in an escalation, casualties could spark more violence.

Sunday's incident comes shortly after thousands took to the streets to protest chronic power cuts in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in one of the largest unauthorized protests in the territory since the Islamic militant group took power a decade ago.

Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel's destruction, has ruled the territory since 2007, routinely clamping down on critics. The protests have raised fears that Hamas could increase attacks against Israel in order to divert attention away from the internal turmoil. Gaza officials said that following the attack, Israel shut down a border crossing that supplies the primary source of fuel for the territory, in a move that could also exacerbate the power crisis.