11/12/2018, 09.53
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Clashes in Gaza: seven Palestinians - including a Hamas leader - and an Israeli soldier killed

Palestinian sources speak of undercover operation by the Israeli army. The military penetrated 3 km inside the territory. Rockets from Gaza hit southern Israel. Air force responds with ground raid. Netanyahu interrupts the visit to Paris for the celebrations of the centenary of the end of the Great War.

Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Seven Palestinians - including a local Hamas leader - and an Israeli special forces soldier are the victims of an operation launched by Israel in the Gaza Strip yesterday. The clashes took place in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the territory, and risk reigniting the tension - and nullifying a recent aim of the truce - in an area already marked by conflicts and violence.

Confirming the seriousness of the situation, the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short  his visit to Paris. He was in France together with heads of state and government, to attend the events marking the centenary of the armistice of the First World War.

In southern Israel, alarm sirens repeatedly sounded to signal the launch of rockets and missiles from Gaza. According to army sources, at least 17missiles left the Strip, three of which were shot down. At the moment there are no reports of material damage.

In an official note the Israeli military specifies that "a soldier was killed and a second suffered light injuries" in an exchange of gunfire during the special forces operation. Hamas responded that the operation was "a cowardly attack by Israel". One of the victims was Sheikh Nur Barakeh, a prominent official of the Islamic extremist movement that controls Gaza.

According to sources in the Strip, the gunfight ensued after an undercover operation by Israeli special forces infiltrated east of Khan Younis in a civilian vehicle, penetrating more than 3 km into Palestinian territory. Some militiamen discovered the car and tried to stop it, triggering the (also aerial) response of Israel that launched attacks and caused the death of "several people".

Analysts and experts point out the anomaly of the operation launched by Israel, which comes at a time of apparent "progress" on the difficult path of dialogue between the parties mediated by Egypt on the impulse of the United Nations. Last week Israel granted $ 15 million in Qatari aid to the Strip; in response, Hamas assured to reduce the intensity of Friday demonstrations along the border.

Since last March, Palestinians have been holding weekly protests in the area, which in some cases lead to accidents or violence. Behind the demonstrations, promoted by Hamas leaders, support for the claims of Palestinian refugees who are asking to return to their homes, which today are in a territory annexed by Israel. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by the army, most of them in the context of street demonstrations.

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