IAF Strikes Hamas Base in Gaza, Palestinians Report Civilian Casualties

Medical officials say the target was a Hamas training base, but that shrapnel flew into nearby houses, killing a civilian and wounding 13 others.

Early on Friday, Palestinian medical officials said an Israeli air strike hit a Hamas training camp in Gaza City, sending shrapnel flying into nearby houses, killing one civilian and wounding 13 others, mostly women and children. The Israeli military confirmed the air strike early Friday had been carried out.

Violence across the Israeli-Gaza border escalated on Thursday with IAF air strikes killing at least two people and Palestinian militants firing rockets deep into southern Israel on Friday.

Gaza strike - AP - 8.12.2011

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The IDF said two men killed earlier Thursday when an IAF air strike targeted a car on a crowded Gaza street had been planning an attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers along Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai peninsula. "(They) were affiliated with a terrorist squad that intended to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers via the western border," an army statement said.

Palestinian gunmen responded to the first strike with a barrage of rockets fired deep into southern Israel. A Grad-type rocket exploded in an open field near the southern city of Be'er Sheva, with another Qassam landing in an open field in the Sdot Negev Redional Council. No injuries or damages were reported in either incident.

A Hamas spokesman said the initial air strike was a crime and accused Israel of ratcheting up violence in the area. "We hold the government of the Zionist occupation (Israel) fully responsible for this crime and for the new escalation," spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. Hamas, an Islamist group sworn to Israel's destruction, has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

According to the witnesses and paramedics, the AIF strike Thursday was the first Israeli attack inside Gaza City since the three-week Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza in 2008-2009.

Violence between Israel and Gaza militants had abated recently although on Wednesday Israeli troops killed one Palestinian gunman and wounded another in a cross-border raid, witnesses and Palestinian hospital officials said.