Rocket fire from Gaza wounds Palestinians in Israel

JERUSALEM - Israel and the Palestinians battled each other for a third day on Saturday, while the Jewish state found itself facing a serious diplomatic crisis with Egypt’s recall of its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 20 Aug 2011, 10:57 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:53 AM

Egypt also called on Israel to immediately halt strikes on the Gaza Strip amid the diplomatic stand-off triggered by Thursday’s apparent Israeli killing of five Egyptian policemen while pursuing militants.

Rockets fired from Gaza wounded three Palestinian workers in southern Israel and Israeli planes attacked the coastal enclave.

“One rocket hit a house, causing damage but no casualties,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

“The second fell on open ground, among sand dunes, where it wounded three people, Palestinians staying in Israel illegally, injuring two seriously and one moderately,” she said of an attack near Ashdod.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to stop Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

The Israeli military said 19 rockets hit Israel on Saturday morning, but apart from the Ashdod attack there were no injuries.

Activists in Gaza claimed 23 rockets struck Israel.

Among those claiming responsibility for the attacks, was the Popular Resistance Committees, a radical militant group blamed by Israel for the killing of eight Israelis near the Egyptian border on Thursday.

Islamic Jihad and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also said they took part.

In Gaza City around 2,000 mourners, many waving Islamic Jihad banners and Palestinian flags and chanting “revenge, revenge on Tel Aviv” turned out for the funerals of an Islamic Jihad commander, Moataz Qouriqa, his five-year-old son Islam and his brother Munzer, killed in a strike late on Friday.

The army said that in the early hours of Saturday the Israeli air force attacked several targets in Gaza.

“Aircraft targeted two terror tunnels and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as a terror activity site in the northern Gaza Strip,” a statement said.

Palestinian medical officials said two air strikes targeted northern Gaza on Saturday that injured at least three people, one seriously, but military spokesmen could not confirm any aerial attacks during the day.

The Palestinians did not report any casualties from the overnight strikes, but said that air raids on Friday and Thursday killed a total of 14 people and wounded over 40.

The Arab League is to hold emergency talks on Sunday to discuss the situation.

Palestinians said an Israeli tank fired two shells at an unknown target east of Gaza City on Saturday, but no casualties were reported.

Israel said Saturday it had received no official notification from Egypt that it was recalling its ambassador to Tel Aviv after Egyptian state television reported that claim earlier in the day.

“At no time has Israel been officially notified of a recall of the Egyptian ambassador,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

The television report said the ambassador was being withdrawn to protest the killing of the Egyptian policemen on Thursday.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said “Israel regrets the deaths of Egyptian policemen during the attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border” and promised a full investigation.

For its part, Egypt called on Israel to immediately halt strikes on the Gaza Strip.

“Egypt denounces the use of force against civilians in any circumstance and strongly advises Israel to immediately stop its military operations against Gaza,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Israel blames the Popular Resistance Committees for Thursday’s desert ambushes and has killed seven of its men in strikes since then, but the group denies responsibility although it has welcomed the operation.

The extremist Islamic Tawhid wal Jihad group welcomed the attack but did not claim responsibility, the SITE Intelligence Group said on Saturday.

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