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Israeli jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket attacks

Israeli jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket attacks

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Israeli fighter jets struck targets in Gaza in the early hours of Wednesday after Palestinian militants in the blockaded coastal enclave launched five rockets towards Israel.

The Israeli military said its air strikes had targeted underground weapons-making infrastructure linked to Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties in either Israel or Gaza.

The cross-border exchange came as Israeli forces began withdrawing from the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Hundreds of Israeli troops stormed the camp on Monday in the biggest raid in the territory since a Palestinian uprising known as the second intifada ended in 2005.

Israel’s military said the raid — which killed 12 Palestinians, injured more than 140 and forced 500 families to flee — was part of an operation to root out combatants from Jenin, long a militant stronghold. Palestinian leaders have denounced the attack on the densely populated camp, which is home to about 14,000 people, as a “war crime”.

One Israeli soldier was also killed in the fighting, Israel’s military said on Wednesday.

The flare-up was the latest in a year of spiralling violence that has fuelled longstanding fears that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sliding towards an even broader escalation.

According to the latest UN data, which does not include the violence this week, Israeli forces have killed 147 Palestinians this year, while Palestinians have killed 23 Israelis.

The hostilities have been particularly intense in the West Bank — which Palestinians seek as the heart of a future state but which Israel has occupied since 1967 — with this year already on course to be the deadliest in the territory since the UN began collecting data in 2005.

In the past two weeks, the violence has reached new levels, with Israeli forces deploying helicopter gunships and armed drones over the territory for the first time in two decades, before launching Monday’s raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

A further eight people were injured in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after a Palestinian rammed his car into pedestrians before stabbing bystanders, in an attack that Hamas said was a “natural reaction” to the raid on Jenin.

Israeli forces have also traded fire with militants in Gaza in recent weeks. In May, Israel and Islamic Jihad militants engaged in their heaviest fighting since 2021.

The Palestinian group fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel, which struck more than 300 sites in Gaza during a five-day exchange of fire.