Israel started striking Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening in retaliation for the targeting of Israeli troops, the Israeli military said.
Two Palestinian were killed in the fire exchanged, Palestinian media reports claimed.
Palestinian media reports also said that several Palestinians were injured as a result of the Israeli attack on the Strip, but their condition has not been reported.
Massive Israeli tank and artillery fire was being fired east of Gaza City, Palestinian reports added.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military fired at a group of Palestinians who hurled incendiary balloons towards Israel. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said that three Palestinians were injured in the attack, one of them gravely.
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A senior political source said over the weekend that Hamas has asked for a cease-fire and guaranteed that it would stop firing airborne firebombs. However, Hamas activists have told Haaretz that Hamas leadership will not be able to act publicly against the balloon-launchers as long as it does not manage to obtain an Israeli easing of restrictions on the Strip.
Last Friday an Israeli soldier was killed by sniper fire in the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF retaliated striking 68 Hamas targets, and killed four Gazans, three of them Hamas operatives.
Following the escalation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held two security meetings with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the military chief Gadi Eisenkot, Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman and other senior defense officials. "If Hamas continues launching rockets, the result will be a lot worse than they think," Lieberman told the United Nations’ Middle East ambassador, Nickolay Mladenov.
More details soon…