A total of 85 targets, including launching platforms for rockets, tunnels, terrorist activity centers and houses of Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and Islamic Jihad militant group leaders have been hit by air strikes since midnight.
According to Palestinian medical services, 15 Palestinians, including five children, were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza today. Overall, since July 8, when Israel launched its Protective Edge military operation, 220 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,500 have been wounded in Gaza.
The operation to search for the teenagers continued for more than two weeks and was accompanied by searches, arrests of Palestinian activists and shelling of the Palestinian territory.
July 1, 2014, a 16-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Arab neighborhood of Shuafat was kidnapped and killed. Six ultra-right Jewish activists were arrested for the crime. The death of the Palestinian teenager caused riots among Palestinians.
July 8, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces announced the start of the operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants. The IDF made strikes on 50 targets in the Gaza Strip, most of which were launching platforms for rockets. Five Palestinians were killed and some 20 were wounded.
The immediate reason for the operation was that cities in southern Israel were massively shelled by Hamas military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. According to the Israeli army’s press service, on July 7, some 90 missiles were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. As of early July, 450 missiles had been fired since the start of 2014.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to prepare for a possible ground operation. Israel announced mobilization of 1,500 reservists and sent two army brigades to the border with Gaza.
Later, on July 15, there was a brief ceasefire. Israel, the IDF said, abstained from strikes on the Gaza Strip for six hours on Tuesday since 09:00 local time while abiding by a ceasefire agreement suggested as part of Egypt’s peace initiative.
But Palestinian militants rejected Cairo’s plan and continued rocket attacks on Israel all this time. At 15:00 local time, Netanyahu ordered the IDF to resume strikes against Gaza.
Hamas militants set a course for liberation of Israel-occupied Palestinian territories right from the start of their activity on December 14, 1987. The group has made a few dozen terrorist attacks against military and civilian facilities of Israel.
Hamas regularly shells Israel’s territory with homemade rockets. In response, Israel shells Gaza and holds military operations there to suppress militant activity and destroy Hamas’ military structure. According to Hamas, 1,365 Israelis died in 1987-2011 in terrorist attacks made by its militants.