Israel bombs Gaza after rocket fire, deadly Nablus raid

Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip after Palestinian fighters launched several rockets from the besieged coastal enclave amid tensions over an Israeli raid that killed at least 11 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

The attacks early on Thursday sent plumes of black smoke rising over one of the targeted locations north of Gaza city.

Hours earlier, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip lit up the night sky and triggered sirens in the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Palestinian witnesses said they saw at least eight rockets fired, while the Israeli military put the number of projectiles at six.

The Israeli military said its air defence system intercepted five of the rockets, while the sixth fell in an uninhabited area.

No Palestinian group has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire.

The rocket launches came after the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad group condemned the Israeli military’s raid in Nablus on Wednesday as a “major crime” that the “resistance must respond to”. Hamas, which governs the coastal enclave, had also issued a warning, with spokesman Abu Obeida saying “the resistance in Gaza is observing the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people in the occupied West Bank”. He added that their “patience is running out”.

The Nablus raid was one of the deadliest Israeli operations in the occupied West Bank since the second Intifada or the Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005. The death toll on Wednesday surpassed that of an Israeli attack last month in the city of Jenin, further north.

At least 100 others were wounded. Some 82 of them were hit by live ammunition, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

The Israeli army blocked off all entrances to Nablus on Wednesday morning before surrounding a home with two wanted Palestinian fighters, Hossam Isleem and Mohammad Abdulghani, who were both killed. The Palestinian Lions’ Den armed group said in a statement that it engaged in clashes with Israeli forces during the raid, alongside the recently formed Balata Brigades.

The Israeli military said it entered Nablus to arrest three fighters suspected in previous shooting attacks against Israelis.

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