Israeli air force struck a series of targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday morning in response to rocket fire from Hamas-ruled territory. It was the third consecutive night of fighting between the two sides, even as the Israeli foreign minister sought to dangle calls for calm.
Tensions have grown after the escape last week from an Israeli prison by six Palestinian inmates, as well as Egypt’s relentless efforts to negotiate a long-term ceasefire following a war of 11 days last May.
The IDF reported three separate rocket hits on Sunday evening and Monday morning, saying at least two of them were intercepted by its rocket defenses. In response, he said he attacked a number of Hamas targets. There have been no reports of casualties on either side.
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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday called for a new approach to end the cycle of fighting with Hamas, outlining a plan to invest internationally in Gaza’s infrastructure in return for pressuring Hamas to stop its military reinforcement and maintain calm.
“The policy that Israel has pursued so far has not substantially changed the situation,” Lapid said during a speech at Reichman University, north of Tel Aviv.
“We need to change direction,” he added.
Much of his proposal – which he says was made in consultation with the United States and other countries – has been presented before but has never been implemented due to the fighting, deep mistrust. and bitter internal divisions on both sides. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whom Lapid is due to replace in 2023 under a rotation agreement, did not immediately comment on the proposal.
During the latest violence, Hamas fired rockets at Israel which were brought down by the country’s Iron Dome defense system, the military said, adding that fighter jets hit a military post belonging to Hamas. Within hours, the military reported a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction, south of Bethlehem.
Over the weekend, Israel grabbed four of six Palestinian detainees, who dug a tunnel out of a maximum–security prison on September 6. Palestinian militants responded with rocket fire. Israel’s search for the last two prisoners continues.
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Meanwhile, Egyptian mediation efforts to achieve a long-term truce have clashed with parties unable to agree on a system to renew Qatari payments to needy families in Gaza. Israel demanded guarantees that Hamas does not divert the money for military purposes.
Gaza is an impoverished territory whose population is predominantly made up of families who fled or were forced to leave their properties in what is now Israel during the war surrounding the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Hamas is pushing for Israel to end a crippling blockade that has devastated Gaza’s economy, while Israel demands that Hamas release two captive Israeli civilians and return the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since the ousting of internationally recognized Palestinian Authority forces in 2007, a year after the Islamic militant group won Palestinian parliamentary elections.
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Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and many smaller fights.