State Department on Gaza attacks: 'We stand with Israel'


The Israeli military said there had been an exchange of fire during an operation in Gaza, with troops withdrawing from the territory with the help of aircraft.

"This is happening at a delicate juncture in Hamas-Israeli relations", Hugh Lovatt, a regional expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told DW.

The groups, including Hamas, issued a joint statement saying they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.

A statement from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, said the Israeli team was two miles inside Gaza in a civilian auto when the fight broke out.

Netanyahu cut short a visit to Paris because of the flare-up and returned to Israel on Monday for consultations with top security officials.

Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, said 26-year-old Khaled Riyad Ahmed al-Sultan was killed and another civilian wounded when Israeli shells fell onto Salatin area west of the city of Beit Lahia, located about five kilometers north of Gaza City.

The groups called the barrage "a measured and carefully thought response to last night's incident", and warned Israel that "the range and intensity of fire from Gaza will increase in accordance with the volume of the Israeli response". In Israel, the national rescue service said at least 20 people were wounded, including a 19-year-old soldier and a 60-year-old woman who were in critical condition.

Israel said the station "broadcasts violent propaganda" and provides "operational messaging" to militants.

An aerial view shows the remains of a building in Gaza City that was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

More than 170 demonstrators, most unarmed, have been killed by Israeli army fire in the confrontations, in which some of the participants threw stones, burned tires or hurled grenades toward Israeli forces. Several buildings, including homes, have been hit.

A Palestinian official said Egypt and the United Nations had stepped up efforts with Palestinian factions and Israel to end the current round of fighting "and prevent further escalation".

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Crameri said one of the risks was the use of anaesthetic, as they did not know how one twin would react to the other receiving it. A post on the charity's blog said that the girls' mother, Bhumchu, has seen her girls post-surgery and given them each a kiss.

Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot, chief of the general staff of the Israel Defence Forces, said the team was involved in a "very meaningful operation for Israel's security". It also described how the Israeli soldiers' identities were uncovered and how the unit was "dealt with by our fighters".

Militants have subsequently fired 200 rockets and mortars at Israel.

A relative of Palestinian Khaled Qwaider, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, reacts during his funeral November 12 in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

It also vowed to "increase. intensive strikes" on Israel if it "keeps up its aggression".

Israeli airstrikes followed when the operation failed, it said in a statement.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, the latest in 2014, since the group seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

At least three Palestinians died in the strikes on Gaza, while a civilian was killed in a rocket attack in the Israeli town of Ashkelon.

The escalation came despite Netanyahu's decision to allow Qatar to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip for salaries as well as fuel to ease an electricity shortage.

Tensions have been running high near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the occupied territories ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the coastal enclave on March 30.

According to Hamas sources, the Israeli commandos were traveling in a civilian vehicle dressed as Palestinians when they were stopped at a Hamas checkpoint.