Tension High in South Following Israeli Strike on Gaza

Mortar fire from Gaza renewed, interrupting an otherwise quiet morning in southern Israel.

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A mortar shell was fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Friday, as tension between in the area continues to be high following Israeli strikes late on Thursday.

The shell landed in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported.

Gazan militant groups said the Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip overnight hit a Hamas militant base, another site tied to the Popular Resistance Committees and a Palestinian National Security Forces position, all in the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border.

Local sources also reported Israeli fire toward farm land in the northern Gaza Strip, apparently at sites that militants used for launching rockets at Israel on Thursday.

There have been no reports of injuries following the Israeli strikes.

The Israeli response was the latest development in a flare-up between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza that started on Wednesday when Islamic Jihad launched 70 rockets at Israel throughout the day.

Gaza short on diesel fuel as Israel closes border

Gaza might go without power on Saturday after Israel closed off the Kerem Shalom border crossing allowing no more diesel fuel for the power plant to enter, Gazan energy officials have warned.

Fathi Sheikh Khalil, deputy chief of Gaza's energy authority, said the diesel is running low and that the crossing will remain closed until after the Jewish holiday of Purim, which ends Sunday.

Gaza energy woes come despite the $10 million Qatar transferred to the authority for the purchase of diesel fuel in recent days.

Power blackouts that last several hours at a time are common in the Gaza Strip because of disputes between Israeli and Gazan energy authorities, and due to the recurrent closing of border crossings.

Israeli schools near Gaza are open as usual on Friday but residents have been asked to stay near safety zones, Israel Radio reported Friday morning.

Nine rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel on Thursday despite an announcement of a cease-fire by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad earlier in the day. The Israeli Defense Forces denied a truce was reached.

The IDF has summoned "a limited number" of air defense reservists in response to the recent escalation, a senior Israeli officer told Haaretz on Thursday. 

Palestinians inspect the scene of Israeli air strike in Rafah in the south of Gaza Strip March 14, 2014.Credit: Reuters

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