AP NEWS

The Latest: Israeli aircraft bomb Hamas militant targets

March 27, 2019
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Palestinians inspect the damage of the offices of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in Gaza City, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. A tense quiet took hold Tuesday morning after a night of heavy fire as Israeli aircraft bombed targets across the Gaza Strip and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel in what threatened to devolve into a major conflict two weeks before the Israeli election. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (all times local):

11:10 p.m.

Palestinian witnesses say Israeli aircraft are striking Hamas militant targets in the southern Gaza Strip.

The late-night strikes on Tuesday follow a rocket launched from Gaza that set off air-raid sirens in southern Israel and sent residents rushing to bomb shelters before the rocket fell in open ground.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Tuesday evening’s rocket strike and airstrikes ended a brief lull that had prevailed for most of the day after an overnight exchange of heavy fire.

The cross-border fighting was triggered by a rocket fired early Monday from Gaza that slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people.

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9:15 p.m.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador is warning Gaza’s Hamas rulers that if attacks against Israel continue Hamas leaders will face the “might” of the Israeli military and “be buried in the tunnels of Gaza.”

Danny Danon told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Hamas had committed a “heinous crime against Israel, a deliberate and direct act of terror against our people” when it fired a rocket Monday that hit a home in central Israel, wounding seven people.

Israel responded with retaliatory airstrikes across Gaza and Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets before an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire appeared to take hold early Tuesday.

Israeli forces continued to strike targets Tuesday in the Gaza Strip after a rocket attack from the Palestinian territory. The Israeli army said at least 30 rockets were fired into Israel, and that it retaliated with at least 15 airstrikes. (March 26)
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Danon said the Security Council “must condemn Hamas and its terrorism against Israel unequivocally” and designate Hamas a terrorist organization.

To those calling for restraint and talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Danon said, “once rockets are flying into our cities, we will defend our people ... and then we will talk.”

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8:35 p.m.

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. says the situation in Gaza “is part of the long-running campaign of violence and terror being waged against our people by Israel.”

Riyad Mansour warned the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that “today, again, we find ourselves at the edge of the precipice, fearing for the lives of our people as Israeli officials ratchet up their threats of war against the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Israel traded fire with Hamas militants after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in central Israel early Monday, wounding seven people. A tense truce appeared to take hold early Tuesday.

Mansour, who represents the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, stressed that “history does not start from firing rockets or doing something that is wrong,” stressing that “the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror.”

He urged the Security Council to “make its voice heard and act to deter further violence and escalation of this serious situation.”

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8:30 p.m.

Air raid sirens have sounded in southern Israel, breaking a fragile calm that followed an overnight exchange of fire with Hamas militants.

The Israeli army said late Tuesday that it identified one rocket launched from Gaza toward its territory. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The cross-border violence erupted Monday when a rocket launched from Gaza struck a house in central Israel, wounding seven people. Israel responded with airstrikes and Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets before a cease-fire appeared to take hold early Tuesday.

Israel has bolstered its troops on the southern frontier in preparation for further escalation.

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8 p.m.

The Israeli army says it is ordering additional troops to the southern frontier with Gaza, even as a tense calm prevailed after an overnight exchange of fire with Hamas militants.

The military said that after consulting with security officials Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to send an additional infantry brigade and artillery battalion to bolster forces around the Palestinian enclave, and to call up more reserve soldiers.

The heavy cross-border fighting erupted after a rocket launched from Gaza struck a house in central Israel, wounding seven people. Hamas said Egyptian mediation succeeded in brokering a cease-fire as violence tapered off early Tuesday, but Israel has not confirmed the deal.

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6:15 p.m.

A senior Hamas official says the militant group has accepted a cease-fire plan with Israel.

Ismail Radwan told reporters Tuesday that “there are Egyptian and international efforts to stop the aggression,” and that “we are committed to it” as long as Israel respects the deal.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

A tense quiet prevailed Tuesday after a night of heavy cross-border fighting ignited by a rocket attack on Israel that wounded seven people. Upon returning home from Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held consultations with senior military officials to decide on next steps.

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5:45 p.m.

The U.N. secretary-general is urging Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel to show restraint following a Hamas rocket attack and Israeli retaliatory strikes.

Speaking to reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Antonio Guterres reiterated that the United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket attack that hit a house in central Israel early Monday, wounding seven people.

But he said “it is absolutely necessary to avoid any scaling up and to have restraint.” He called for “restraint in the present moment, for the people not to suffer even more, both in Israel and in Gaza and in Palestine in general.”

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4:30 p.m.

The U.N. Mideast envoy is urging the Security Council to condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Gaza’s Hamas rulers toward Israel, saying this dramatically increases the risk of escalation and a new conflict.

Nikolay Mladenov told the council Tuesday that since 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Tuesday, “a fragile calm seems to have taken hold.” He urged all sides “to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains very tense.”

In the past 10 days, Mladenov said, there have been two rocket attacks from Gaza targeting the Tel Aviv area, “which represents a very serious escalation.”

A rocket launched Monday from Gaza hit a house in central Israel, wounding seven people and sparking the latest escalation.

Over the following 24 hours, Mladenov said, at least 103 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza toward Israel, one damaging a house in Sderot. He said Israel conducted 42 airstrikes on various locations in Gaza and fired 16 shells toward Gaza, wounding seven Palestinians, according to local sources, and destroying several buildings including Hamas offices and security buildings.

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3:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has pounded militant sites in Gaza on a scale not seen since the 2014 war and is “prepared to do a lot more.”

Netanyahu spoke via satellite Tuesday to the AIPAC conference in Washington after abruptly returning home to deal with the escalation of violence with Gaza’s Hamas rulers after a long-range rocket struck a home in central Israel.

The Israeli air force hit dozens of sites of Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group. The targets included a multistory building in Gaza City that Israel said had served as a Hamas military intelligence headquarters and the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Netanyahu says Israel will “do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state.”

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2 p.m.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned home from Washington, heading straight into military consultations after a night of heavy fire as Israeli aircraft bombed Gaza targets and the strip’s militants fired rockets into Israel.

Schools in southern Israel were cancelled following the violence that erupted just two weeks ahead of Israeli elections. The region is quiet but tense on Tuesday, a day after a surprise rocket fired from Gaza slammed into a house in central Israel, wounding seven.

Netanyahu faces the difficult task of delivering a tough blow to Hamas while avoiding protracted fighting that could work against him on election day.

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11:30 a.m.

Officials at a Palestinian university in the West Bank say undercover Israeli forces have raided the campus and arrested three students.

Lubna Abdelhadi, a spokeswoman for the Bir Zeit University, says the armed commandos, disguised as locals, entered the campus early on Tuesday and grabbed the students, believed to be Hamas activists, while they were sleeping.

The students were apparently hiding on campus to try and avoid arrest. The raid happened as Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militants traded fire overnight after a rocket attack from Gaza struck a home in central Israel early on Monday.

Israeli forces had previously raided the university in 2017 and ransacked the student council, confiscating materials used by political groups.

The Israeli military said it arrested nine Palestinian suspects in routine overnight West Bank raids, but would not specify further.

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9 a.m.

A tense quiet has taken hold after a night of heavy fire as Israeli aircraft bombed targets across the Gaza Strip and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel.

School in southern Israel was cancelled on Tuesday following the violence that erupted just two weeks ahead of Israeli elections.

The cross-border fighting was triggered by a surprise rocket fired early Monday from Gaza that slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people. Gaza’s Hamas rulers announced later in the day that Egyptian mediators had brokered a cease-fire but the firing continued.

The attack prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Washington and return home. He promised a tough response, setting the stage for perhaps the most serious conflict since a 50-day war in 2014.