State Department Condemns Hamas Rocket Attacks, Supports ‘Israel’s Right to Defend Itself’

State Department Condemns Hamas Rocket Attacks, Supports ‘Israel’s Right to Defend Itself’

State Department Condemns Hamas Rocket Attacks, Supports ‘Israel’s Right to Defend Itself’

Earlier on Thursday, a Palestinian official said armed factions in Gaza were prepared to halt their rocket attacks on southern Israel if the Israeli military stopped its air strikes.

More sirens rang out in southern Israel on Thursday night and there were reports in the Israeli media of at least two rockets landing in open areas.

A spokesman for Hamas said Friday that the group would not be deterred from urging Gazans to continue protests that have taken place every Friday since late March, dubbed the "Great March of Return".

"Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist terror organization, with funding from Iran, dedicated to the destruction of Israel", he wrote.

It was not clear if the escalation, the latest in a series of intense exchanges of fire in recent months, would derail the indirect negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas militant rulers.

In a statement, Hamas added that they hold Israel responsible for the latest escalation and called for global intervention "to prevent the rapid escalation on the ground".

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Palestinians inspect a house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on Dair al Balah in the center of Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

Smoke billows during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, Aug. 9, 2018. The military says they targeted more than 150 Hamas militant targets in the Gaza strip.

Israel has also been battling nearly daily airborne arson attacks from Gaza caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices flown across the border that have sparked large fires that destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. One of the officials said "they consider this round of escalation over".

Rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop in the southern Israeli towns and border communities near Gaza from sunset on Wednesday.

The newspaper Haaretz reportedthat 11 people were wounded in the town of Sderot after six rockets were fired from Gaza. "What was the guilt of the baby?" asked Said Khamash, a cousin of the woman's husband, who was injured in the air strike, which left a gaping hole in the ceiling of their modest home in the Wadi al-Salqa area of central Gaza.

Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza overnight and Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets, including a long-range missile deep into Israel, escalating fighting despite talks on a truce to avert an all-out conflict.

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A statement from the military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the rockets.

The Israeli military said the building served as a Palestinian military installation. One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Neither Greenblatt, the foreign ministry, nor the army made any mention of the killing of Inas Khimash and her daughter Bayan.

In the West Bank, ruled by President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed Palestinian Authority, the public and private sectors have launched projects to diversify power sources to get cheaper electricity and more self-sufficiency.

The marches have been accompanied by clashes as some protesters hurl stones at Israeli soldiers and attempt to breach the border fence, at times laying explosive devices on the fence and using incendiary kites to set ablaze Israeli fields.

After a sleepless night for residents of Gaza and nearby Israeli communities on Wednesday, there was little respite on Thursday morning.

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Mladenov added that "if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

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