Israel launches ‘Protective Edge’ Gaza raids



Dozens of raids were launched by the Israeli air force on the Gaza Strip overnight, witnesses and Palestinian security officials said Tuesday.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to Agence France-Presse an air operation code-named Protective Edge had been launched.

At least 50 sites in the Palestinian territory were raided.

Israelli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Associated Press that the military attacked four houses belonging to militants, concealed rocket launchers, and other sites early Tuesday. Most of the sites were targeted in airstrikes, and three were attacked from the sea.

Lerner said the army will gradually increase attacks on Gaza, and is recruiting reservists for a potential ground invasion.

He said Israel seeks to “strike Hamas” and end the rocket fire. The army says about 300 projectiles were fired from Gaza at Israel in recent weeks, including 80 rockets on Monday.

The raids came after rocket fire pounded southern Israel, leaving nine people injured, and an Israeli raid killing at least sixHamas gunmen a day earlier.

Rocket fire from Gaza has been gradually increasing over the last three weeks and is becoming a major concern for the Israeli authorities – with the more polarized and nationalist segments now demanding a stiff reaction to tackle the growing influence of Hamas in Gaza strip.

The region has been on edge since three Israeli teens – one of them a U.S. citizen – were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank last month. Last week, the teens’ bodies were found in a West Bank field in a crime Israel blamed on the Hamas.

Israel arrested six Jewish suspects Sunday in the grisly“revenge” slaying of a Palestinian teenager who was abducted and burned alive last week – a crime that set off a wave of violent protests in Arab sections of the country.

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