Israeli air force fighter jets in the early hours of Thursday, December 19, conducted airstrikes on the blockaded Gaza strip after Israel claimed that a rocket was fired from Gaza towards Sderot town in southern Israel. Israeli fighter jets targeted sites in Gaza allegedly belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian resistance organization.
One of the sites targeted by the Israeli aerial attacks was a weapons manufacturing site allegedly belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza strip. No injuries or deaths from the aerial bombings on Gaza have been reported yet.
Later, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that in retaliation to the rocket fire, Israel will reduce the permitted fishing zone for the Gaza strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice.
The airstrikes on Gaza come a day after an Israeli aircraft fired a missile killing a Palestinian man who the Israelis claimed was armed, and was approaching the Gaza-Israel border fence. Israeli soldiers, accompanied by bulldozers, later crossed the border fence in the area east of Khan Younis to retrieve the body of the dead Palestinian. Medical sources in Gaza later identified the victim as Abdullah Ahmad Abu Teir (Abu Nasr ), 18, from Abasan al-Kabeera in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian man’s father has appealed to international human rights groups to apply pressure on Israel to release his body to the family so that they could accord him a proper burial.
This spate of violence comes despite a delicate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian resistance groups present in Gaza, such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, brokered recently by Egypt and the United Nations. The ceasefire was preceded by intense fighting between Israel and the Islamic Jihad in November, after Israeli drones assassinated a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the Gaza strip. The subsequent violence saw Israel killing 35 Palestinians, while Islamic Jihad fired more than 450 retaliatory rockets towards Israel.