JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to militant rocket and mortar attacks, stoking concerns that a grave new round of hostilities will fill the vacuum left by an impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
Two years of relative calm have been unraveling in recent weeks with acts of violence against Israelis — including a deadly bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday that killed a British tourist — and Israeli reprisals against Gaza militants, which in one case killed four Palestinian civilians.
Militants operating near the Israeli border sent at least nine rockets and mortars — including two rockets that reached the city of Ashdod — flying at Israeli communities throughout the day, drawing an Israeli airstrike in retaliation. No injuries were reported on either side.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the rocket attacks “repugnant” and defended the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip as legitimate self-defense.
Because of the superiority of Israel‘s military, its enemies consider hitting Israeli cities as the most effective strategy in a war against the Jewish state.
Israel‘s inability to halt the rocket fire has drawn public criticism, especially since Israel has spent an estimated $200 million developing a system that is meant to shoot down the short-range rockets that militants use. Although officials repeatedly have promised the Iron Dome system is ready to be deployed, it so far hasn’t been used in the field.
Israeli security officials have said little about the investigations into Wednesday’s bus-stop bombing and the knife killings of five members of a family in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank two weeks ago.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there were gag orders preventing discussion of either investigation. He said only that Jerusalem police remained on a heightened state of alert.
Before leaving for a brief trip to Russia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned militants not to test Israel‘s “iron will” and vowed a tough response. But he also expressed hope that calm would be restored.
Neither side is thought to be spoiling for a major fight, but the concern is that events will spiral out of control.View Entire Story
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