A Palestinian has been killed in an Israeli air raid on the northern Gaza Strip, according to Gaza’s health ministry, amid a fresh escalation between Israel’s military and Gaza fighters.
Imad Nseir, 22, was killed in Beit Hanoun after Israeli warplanes targeted multiple areas in the besieged enclave on Saturday morning after dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Jerusalem, said the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza came after an Israeli drone attack in the north of the strip early on Saturday, which injured three people.
“We are looking at another military escalation, the first since last month’s in which we saw another exchange of air raids and rocket fire out of Gaza, which seemed to end with some hopes towards some kind of longer-term resolution,” he said.
“There was a good deal of reporting about talks between Israel and Hamas mediated by Egypt with further relaxing of the situation likely to happen from the Israeli side,” he continued.
“Hamas says so far all they have seen is the relaxation in maritime controls, allowing fishing out to 15 nautical miles from six, which has now been reduced again.”
The Iron Dome missile system intercepted dozens of projectiles, the Israeli army said, adding that about 90 rockets were fired from the strip. No casualties were reported on the Israeli side, the army also said.
According to Palestinian news agencies, Israeli warplanes targeted an agricultural area in Beit Hanoun, a northern town in the Strip, with multiple air raids following the rocket fire.
Israeli forces at the fence with Gaza also shelled several monitoring outposts east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Gaza health officials also said four Palestinians were wounded in one of the Israeli raids.
Sirens went off in the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and nearby Zikim beach, located two kilometres north of the Gaza Strip, was also closed off.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire from Gaza.
The Palestinian Information Center quoted Hamas spokesperson Abdullatif Al-Qanou’ as saying: “The resistance will remain present to respond to the crimes of the occupation, and will not allow it to shed the blood of our people.”
The Islamic Jihad movement also released a similar statement, saying “the resistance is doing its duty to protect and defend our people”, adding that it will “respond to the [Israeli] aggression to the fullest extent.”
Meanwhile, the Fatah movement in the occupied West Bank has condemned the escalation on the Gaza Strip and called on the international community to “curb the aggression”.
On Friday, four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in two separate incidents; two of them were shot dead during the weekly Great March of Return protests near the Israeli fence east of Gaza, while an air raid targeting a Hamas outpost killed two members of the movement’s armed wing.The Israeli army said it had hit the Hamas base after two of its soldiers were injured by gunfire from Gaza at the Israeli fence.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the United Nations had led to relative calm around Israel’s April 9 general election.
But on Tuesday, Israel reduced the offshore fishing limit it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza after a rocket was fired from the territory.
Israel’s army blamed Islamic Jihad for the rocket, which fell into the Mediterranean.
On Thursday, Israel said its aircraft struck a Hamas military compound after balloons carrying firebombs and explosives were launched across the border.
Following the air raid, the Israeli military said two rockets were launched from Gaza toward Israel, setting off sirens in parts of the south.
With the ceasefire at risk, a Hamas delegation led by its Gaza head, Yahya Sinwar, left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials on the truce.
The ceasefire has seen Israel allow Qatar provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza to pay salaries and to finance fuel purchases to ease a severe electricity shortage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently engaged in negotiations to form a new government following last month’s election, while Israel is due to host the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv from May 14-18.
Palestinians have participated in regular demonstrations along the Gaza border for more than a year, calling on Israel to ease its crippling blockade of the enclave.
At least 270 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began in March 2018, the majority along the border.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed in that period.
Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out attacks and says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations.
The results of a UN investigation released at the end of February found that Israel may have committed crimes against humanity in responding to the border protests, as snipers “intentionally” shot civilians including children, journalists and the disabled.
Israel rejected the report “outright” but Hamas called for Israel to be held accountable.