Israel bombs targets in Gaza

Israeli warplanes launched an overnight raid on a Hamas facility in Gaza in what the army said was a "retaliatory attack." Health officals in Gaza said one person was injured in the strikes.

Israel launched an overnight air raid on a Hamas facility in Gaza Thursday after gunfire from the territory targeted its soldiers and damaged a building in the town of Sderot.

The exchange of fire stems from weeks of protests over the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which peaked on Monday when some 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. 

What happened:

  • Israeli military said warplanes attacked a Hamas weapons factory in the Gaza Strip.
  • The strikes came in retaliation to machine gunfire that damaged several houses in Sderot, the army added.
  • The Palestinian health ministry said one person was injured.

The aftershocks of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem on Monday and the accompanying violence and deaths from protests are shaking up the region. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sees the embassy move as a betrayal from his former negotiating partners Israel and the US. For years, the Palestinians continued to cooperate with Israeli troops in the West Bank and in turn, the US promised not to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to keep the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office open in Washington DC. 

Months of protest: Since late March, there have been weekly border protests in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians. The violence in the region culminated this week in clashes coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem.  Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official in Gaza said that all but 12 of the protesters killed this week were members of Hamas.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah targeted

The convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the West Bank-based Fatah group was targeted as he made a rare visit to Gaza on March 13. The Palestinian Authority said it held Hamas responsible, having failed to provide adequate security. Hamas claimed the attack was aimed at hurting efforts to achieve unity and reconciliation.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Land Day march

Some 30,000 Palestinians took part in the first of the demonstrations on March 30, marking Land Day, named for the 1976 Arab protests against Israeli plans to expropriate land. Some demonstrators ran at the border fence and 16 were killed by Israeli troops with others injured, and some dying later.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Netanyahu: 'We will hurt them'

Speaking on April 9 in the Israeli town of Sderot, near Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We have one clear and simple rule and we seek to express it constantly: If someone tries to attack you — rise up and attack him. We will not allow, here on the Gaza border, them to hurt us. We will hurt them."

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Protesters injured

Palestinians ran to help a young man injured during the border protest on April 13. Stones had been thrown at border guards and the Israeli troops fired on the demonstrators. Some 45 Palestinians died and hundreds were injured between March 30 and April 27.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Boy killed on April 20

Protest continued on April 20th, with some Palestinian protesters using kites to transport Molotov cocktails and firebombs over the fence. Israeli snipers killed at least four more Palestinians on April 20th, including a 15-year-old boy. The UN Middle East envoy dubbed the killing "outrageous."

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

May 15: US Embassy officially moved to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv

US President Donald Trump's daugher Ivanka is part of the delegation that opened the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. The transfer of the embassy triggered a fresh wave of protests in which 62 people were killed. The deaths have considerably heightened tensions in the area.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

US no longer seen as partner in Middle East negotiations

As the US celebrated its embassy move from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, Palestinian protests escalated. The events coincided with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of modern-day Israel, and Nakba Day, when Palestinians recall those who fled or were expelled as Israel was established.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

More than 60 people were killed in protests

Palestinians carried away a protester injured on May 15th after demonstrations marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Palestinian youths run from tear gas

Hamas official Salah al-Bardaweel said on Palestinian television that all but 12 of the dead were members of Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization is planning to pursue a war crimes complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Israeli airstrikes pound Hamas military targets in Gaza

Following an increase in cross-border violence in mid-July, Israel pounded Hamas military targets in Gaza, while Palestinian militants fired more than 170 rockets and mortars into Israel. Two Palestinian boys, aged 15 and 16, were killed in Israeli airstrikes, according to Gaza's health ministry. Three Israelis were injured after a rocket landed on a residential home in the Israeli city of Sderot.

How the Gaza protests against Israel escalated this year

Israel temporarily closes its Kerem Shalom cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip

Days later, Israel blocked all fuel and gas transfers through the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip for six days "in light of the continued terrorist attempts of Hamas." Israel's defense ministry said essential food and medicine deliveries would still get through. The crossing had been shuttered to commercial trade a week earlier.

The Palestinian stance: For decades since the 1967 war, the Palestinian strategy has been to seek independence through negotiations. Despite continued Israeli construction of settlements, the Palestinians remained hopeful that negotiations would culminate in an independent state. 

What is the Gaza Strip? Almost two million people live in the tiny, self-governing Palestinian territory. It is just 41 km (25.4 miles) long and anywhere from 6-12km wide. In May of 1994, as part of the Oslo Accords, Israel transferred power to the Palestinian Authority. The Islamist faction Hamas has governed since 2007. The World Bank says Gaza suffers from one of the "highest unemployment rates on earth."

av/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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