Dozens of Gaza Strikes by Israel as Hamas Extends Rockets’ Range By STEVEN ERLANGER and ISABEL KERSHNER JULY 9, 2014

JERUSALEM — Rockets continued to fall over central Israel on Wednesday and Israel carried out more airstrikes in Gaza, as the military and political confrontation between Hamas and Israel showed no signs of abating.

At least five rockets were shot down over Tel Aviv early Wednesday, the Israeli Army said, after a barrage of longer-range rockets late Tuesday night hit near major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, most of them falling harmlessly. One Syrian-made M-302 rocket hit near Hadera, about 70 miles from Gaza, according to an Israeli Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, who said that Palestinians in Gaza had “tens” more like it.

In March, Israel intercepted a ship in the southern Red Sea, 1,000 miles from Israel, that contained a shipment of M-302s, which were said then to have a range of 100 miles. The Israelis attributed the shipment to Iran, a supporter of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a militant group that has also fired advanced rockets.

The Israelis also said on Wednesday that they had targeted a senior Islamic Jihad rocket commander, Abdullah Diyfallah, in an airstrike. Another airstrike, which hit a motorcycle in Beit Lahiya, killed Rafiq al-Kafarneh, 30, and seriously wounded another person, said medics at Kamal Adwan Hospital. At least 29 Palestinians have died since the airstrikes began late Monday night, including, according to some reports, eight children under the age of 16.

Israel said it hit about 160 targets overnight, including what it called 118 concealed rocket-launching sites, weapons storage facilities, 10 tunnels, six official Hamas facilities and 10 Hamas military command positions. Since Operation Protective Edge began, the army said, it has gone after about 440 targets.

Israel is also calling up reservists to replace those on duty in the West Bank, to free them for a possible ground invasion of Gaza. The government has authorized the military to call up as many as 40,000 reservists.

The show of military strength on both sides illustrated the fragile state of Israeli-Palestinian relations, starting with the collapse of American-sponsored peace talks, the attempts by rival Palestinian factions to form a unity government, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the subsequent kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager.

Palestinian officials said that at least 23 people were killed Tuesday in Gaza, and Israeli officials said two people in Israel were wounded by rocket attacks on Monday.

Israeli officials emphasized that their goal was to restore quiet to southern Israel. But Mr. Netanyahu’s government was also under pressure to conduct a more extensive operation, including ground troops, to destroy a military infrastructure in Gaza rebuilt since Israel’s last campaign there, in 2012.

For its part, Hamas is under pressure from more radical groups in Gaza to show that it could stand up to Israel. An antagonistic military-backed government in Egypt has moved to seal the border with Gaza, sharply reducing Hamas’s tax receipts, and the group also has little to show for its coalition with Fatah. Now, Hamas appears to have fallen back on its main principle of armed resistance to Israel.

This latest confrontation has roots in the kidnapping and murder last month of the three Israeli teenagers by men in the West Bank who Israel alleges belong to Hamas. That was followed by the kidnapping and murder of the Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, reportedly by members of an anti-Arab group of supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team known as La Familia. Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, and a lawyer for two of the suspects said Tuesday that they did not know if that was true and that the investigation was continuing.

The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers led to a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, which in turn appeared to push Hamas to respond from Gaza, which it controls.

NYT

Mourners carried the bodies of a man who was a member of the Fatah movement and his six sons

Mourners carried the bodies of a man who was a member of the Fatah movement and his six sons

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