Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed nine Palestinians and three Israelis.
The flare-up began on Friday, during protests in Gaza against the blockade of the area – which Israel says is needed to stop weapons reaching militants. A Palestinian gunman shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers at the boundary fence. Israel retaliated with an air strike that killed two militants.
Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip today as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel. Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defence minister, said in a statement today that he has also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza, a move that raised fears of a ground invasion.
The flare-up comes despite a truce agreed last month. Egypt and the United Nations have recently been trying to broker a longer-term ceasefire.