Islamic Jihad fires dozens of rockets over Gaza frontier

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Mourners carry the body of Shaher Abu Shanab (C), one of three Palestinian fighters from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, who were killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 11, 2014. (Photo: AFP- Mahmud Hams)

Published Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Updated 6:16 pm: Dozens of rockets fired from the besieged Gaza Strip struck towns in occupied Palestine on Wednesday, Israeli police said, a day after Israeli forces killed three Palestinian fighters in the enclave.

The Islamic Jihad militant group, whose members were targeted Tuesday by Israeli war jets in Gaza, said is was behind the attack.

"The al-Quds Brigades responded to (Israeli) aggression with a volley of rockets," the group said in a statement of an attack which came a day after an Israeli air strike killed three of its members in southern Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of casualties after the rockets hit. "It's a barrage such as we haven't seen for two years," a local official said on Army Radio, which reported that some 30 rockets had been fired.

It was the heaviest barrage of rocket fire since November 2012.

An Israeli security source told AFP militants had fired 25 rockets "in close succession all over the south" while the army put the number at "more than 20 rockets" saying that another three were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israel public radio put the number of rockets fired at 55.

Netanyahu linked the attacks to Tuesday's air strike targeting Islamic Jihad militants and pledged to respond "with great force," a statement from his office said.

"We will continue to strike those who want to harm us, we'll act against them very forcefully," he was quoted as saying by his spokesman Ofir Gendelman on Twitter.

Israeli police said the rocket fire fell in several waves along the length of the border with Gaza and that one struck near a public library in the town of Sderot, while another hit near a petrol station in another area.

There was no immediate report of casualties.

"This is the biggest attack on Israel since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense," the military said on its Twitter feed, referring to the major eight-day Israeli assault on Gaza in November 2012 which claimed the lives of 177 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and six Israelis.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, AFP)

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