Israeli warplanes strike in Gaza, five injured


Gaza City:Israeli fighter jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip early Friday, after a month of increased Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli retaliatory strikes on the coastal salient.

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A total of four sites were struck in four sorties that started shortly after midnight and ended by 1 a.m., the Israeli military said.

Each site was struck by two or three missiles, creating initial confusing about the number of targets hit.

Palestinian witnesses said the Daloul dairy factory and a nearby warehouse were struck in Gaza City’s Sabra neighbourhood. Gaza emergency services chief Mo’aweya Hassanein said five people were lightly injured from flying glass and debris.

A mobile police guard-duty caravan, of the radical Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza, was destroyed in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the centre of the strip.

And an open area – the site of a former Jewish settlement evacuated when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 – near the southern of Khan Younis was also struck by several missiles. The adjacent Asda media city, which houses the headquarters of Hamas’ al-Aqsa Television, was damaged, witnesses said.

Palestinian militants have built training bases in some of the former Jewish settlements evacuated in 2005.

An Israeli military spokesman in Tel Aviv confirmed the air strikes, saying the four targets were picked because they contained two weapons manufacturing facilities and two weapons caches.

He said the nightly air strikes were retaliation for rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into southern Israel Thursday.

Witnesses said they heard F-16 warplanes flying over the coastal enclave and a series of successive explosions.

The noise sparked panic in a Gaza Strip that has still not recovered from a three-week Israeli offensive in the winter of 2008, 2009, launched in response to near daily rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants at communities in southern Israel.

Israeli planes had dropped hundreds of flyers over Gaza at several locations Thursday, warning the population of the upcoming overnight strikes and advising residents to stay indoors for the next 24 hours. The flyers added to the tense anticipation that Israel was planning a

major Israeli retaliation.

The air strikes, however, although described as one of the heaviest since the Gaza war of 14 months ago, proved comparatively small-scale when day came.