Two Palestinians said killed as air force bombs multi-story Hamas complex

Two Palestinians said killed as air force bombs multi-story Hamas complex

Army says civilians were warned to leave the area before strike that completely demolishes the building, revealing a Hamas tunnel underneath

Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on July 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on July 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The air force said Saturday it bombed a multi-story Hamas training complex in the Gaza Strip, completely destroying the building and exposing a tunnel complex underneath.

Palestinians reported that two teens were killed in the bombing.

“IDF fighter jets targeted a high-rise building in the Al-Shathi refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip,” the army said, describing the building as “a Hamas terror organization urban warfare training facility.”

The bombing exposed a tunnel under the building, which the army said was “part of a tunnel network dug by the Hamas terror organization all through the Gaza Strip.”

“The building, which was used by the Gazan residents for public services and housing, was turned by the Hamas terror organization into a training facility. The strike was conducted after the residents of the building were warned in advance by IDF forces,” the army said.

The Hamas-run health ministry said two teens were killed and 10 wounded. It identified the dead as 15-year-old Amir al-Nimra and 16-year-old Louay Kahil. It said 4 others were wounded in the more than 40 Israeli strikes throughout the day.

The Hamas training facility in Gaza City destroyed on July 14 2018 by the air force. (IDF spokesperson)

In Israel on Saturday evening, three people were moderately wounded when a rocket hit a house in the town of Sderot, medics said. They were hit by shrapnel and evacuated to hospital in Ashkelon.

These incidents came on the most intense day of clashes since the 2014 Gaza war. Israeli aircraft on Saturday attacked more than 40 targets in the Gaza Strip, as Palestinian terror groups fired repeated salvos of rockets and mortar shells into Israel.

The surge in violence intensified after midnight Friday-Saturday as the Israel Defense Forces hit an attack tunnel and Hamas training bases in Gaza, in response to the moderate wounding of an IDF officer by a hand-grenade thrown during a border riot on Friday.

During the night, Palestinians fired more than 30 projectiles into Israel and kept up the attacks on Saturday, firing a further 100 rockets and mortar shells. Residents of Israeli border communities spent the night in bomb shelters and were cautioned to remain close to the shelters during the day.

The IDF said Iron Dome intercepted at least 20 projectiles that were headed for residential areas in total.

Israel’s political leadership is considering a range of possibilities for trying to halt the rocket fire, including targeted assassinations of Hamas terror chiefs, the use of ground forces, and a ceasefire mediated by Egypt and/or others, but no decision had been made as of Saturday late afternoon, Hadashot TV news reported.

The primary target of the IAF strikes Saturday was the Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, in the north of the Strip, the army said.

An aerial illustration of the Hamas Battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia. (IDF Spokesperson)

“The focus of the attack is a wide-scale strike of the Hamas Battalion HQ in Beit Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers, offices and more,” the IDF said in a statement.

“In addition, a weapons manufacturing site and storage facilities housing various types of weapons, including Hamas’ naval capabilities, were struck,” it said.

The air force also attacked a Palestinian terrorist cell launching mortar shells. Palestinian media said the IDF had shelled the home of a senior Islamic Jihad leader, but there was no confirmation from the army.

The IDF spokesman said the aim of the operation was to “restore a sense of security” and that the military would “respond as necessary” to a wide range of scenarios.

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