- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Violence again broke out along the Israeli-Palestinian border along the Gaza Strip Tuesday, with Israeli forces and Palestinian militants trading attacks and counterattacks in some of the heaviest fighting in over four years.

Palestinian jihadists unleashed a barrage of missiles and mortars from bases in Gaza into Israeli-controlled areas of the disputed territory early Tuesday morning. A majority of the shots were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system fielded by the Israeli Defense Forces, The Associated Press reports. But Tuesday’s attack is one of the largest strikes by Palestinian militants against Israeli targets since Tel Aviv’s war against Hamas in 2014.

Tensions in the region were already high in the aftermath of missile attacks earlier this month by Iranian-backed proxy forces in Syria against Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. The strike by Shia paramilitaries against Israel raised fears that the roughly 5,000 U.S. troops based in Syria would also be targeted for attack.

Israeli fighters carried out over 30 airstrikes targeting several known jihadi redoubts and training camps inside Palestinian-controlled Gaza, including a reported underground tunnel near the city of Rafah running across the border into Egypt, the AP reports.

“Israel will exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm it, and we see Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the Israeli strikes into Gaza.

Marine Corps security forces increased at American embassies in Turkey and Jordan, as well as the old U.S. facility in Tel Aviv and other U.S. diplomatic installations in the Middle East earlier this month, in the wake of the escalating violence along the Israeli-Palestinian border along the Gaza Strip.

Officials at the Pentagon and Marine Corps headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, confirmed the State Department’s request for additional security support at regional embassies across the Middle East at the time, citing the “heightened threat environment” posed to American diplomats in the region, Defense Department spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told The Washington Times.

Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli Defense Forces ended with over 50 protesters killed and scores wounded, just as U.S. and Israeli officials commemorated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli troops fired upon protesters who attempted to breach the border fence during the melee, as they hurled rocks and other debris at Israeli forces while burning tires along the border fence line.

Tel Aviv’s actions along the border, including the use of live ammunition to suppress the protesters, represented a “violation of international standards, in some instances … what appear to be willful killings, constituting war crimes,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said at the time.

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