herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Israel carried out three air strikes on Gaza, targeting Hamas rocket launchers and infrastructure in the strip, the Israeli military said.

Israel carried out three air strikes on Gaza, targeting Hamas rocket launchers and infrastructure in the strip, the Israeli military said.

The strikes broke a relative lull in the fighting at the start of a major Muslim holiday.

The military says Israeli jets hit two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza today.

It says the airstrikes were in response to a Hamas rocket launched into Israel earlier in the morning.

The strikes followed an almost 12-hour lull in war-torn Gaza.

International efforts have intensified to end the three-week war between Israel and Hamas and the UN called for an "immediate" ceasefire.

Muslims have started celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

But there was little holiday cheer in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian families huddled inside their homes, fearing more air strikes.

At a cemetery in Gaza City's Sheik Radwan neighbourhood, those who came to pay traditional respects at their ancestors' graves gathered around a large crater from an air strike a week ago which had smashed several graves.

The Israeli military said it had not carried out any attacks in Gaza since 9.30pm local time yesterday but that troops on the ground were pressing on with efforts to destroy the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hamas for attacks inside Israel.

The military also said that Hamas fired a single rocket into Israel in the early hours today, but that there was no damage or casualties.

The Israeli army opened artillery fire on Beit Lahia in northern Gaza in response to the rocket fired at Ashkelon, said the office of Israel's military spokesman.

"Quiet will be met with quiet," the office statement said.

In New York, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire," its strongest statement yet on the conflict that has already killed 1,030 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers.

Also, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have died in rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.

The pressure for a ceasefire followed new attacks launched by Israel and Hamas yesterday despite back-and-forth proposals for another temporary halt to the fighting.

The Security Council urged Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond."

It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

The council's presidential statement also called on the parties "to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative."

hnews@herald.ie

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