Israel Steps Up Airstrikes Against Hamas in Gaza, Tries to Contain Violence at Home

TEL AVIV—Israel struck more targets in Gaza early Thursday in what officials said was a campaign against Hamas militants, as the government scrambled to contain escalating communal violence within its own borders.

Since Monday, Israel has struck 600 targets that it described as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad weaponry and infrastructure, and killed more than 30 militants, according to

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus,

a military spokesman. Of those, more than 10 were senior leaders in the group, he said.

A ball of fire engulfs a building in Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike.


str/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Among the recent targets were several Hamas buildings, including what it said was an intelligence office in the upscale Rimal neighborhood, the home of a battalion commander and two branches of Hamas’s main bank. Israel also struck a squad operating antitank missiles.

The strikes have killed more than 83 people in Gaza, including 17 children, according to Palestinian officials. Six Israelis, including one child, have been killed in the rocket fire from Gaza, while one soldier was killed by an antitank missile, according to Israeli authorities.

Col. Conricus said Israel is also advancing plans for a ground maneuver for later review by Israel’s political leaders, but no decision has been made yet.

In Gaza, morning prayers for Eid al-Fitr—which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan—were canceled as the airstrikes continued. Nine funerals were planned Thursday.

Air sirens and rocket fire continued into Israel on Thursday morning after another barrage toward central Tel Aviv overnight, but it was quieter in the morning. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have fired 1,600 rockets toward Israel since Monday evening, including 400 that have fallen short and landed in Gaza, Col. Conricus said, adding that Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system has had a 90% interception rate.

Many flights to and from Israel have been canceled, though the main international airport near Tel Aviv remains open.

Meanwhile, Israel’s government was struggling to control increasing violence between Jews and Arabs in mixed Israeli cities as well as demonstrations in Arab towns. In Jerusalem, clashes occurred in Sheikh Jarrah, Damascus Gate in the Old City and elsewhere. There were violent incidents in Acre, Tamra and Umm Al Fahm.

Rockets are launched from Gaza City toward Israel.


mahmud hams/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Defense Minister

Benny Gantz

ordered the call-up of 10 reserve Border Patrol companies to assist with policing efforts.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said border police arrested 374 people across the country who were involved in riots and disturbances overnight. He said 36 police officers were injured.

The Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

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