Syrian air defences thwarted an Israeli missile attack on a research centre and a military base in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said on Monday, in the fifth such attack in two weeks on suspected Iranian targets.
The Syrian army said in a statement that Israel hit military barracks in al-Safirah in the eastern Aleppo countryside. Earlier, state television had said a research centre was hit. The army said it was now assessing the damage caused by the raids.
Syrian civilians killed in Israeli missile strike: State media
Israeli says it bombed Iranian, Syrian targets inside Syria
Hezbollah and Israel: A timeline of cross-border attacks
A regional intelligence source said Israel was stepping up raids in Syria at a time when world attention and the region, including Syria, were distracted by the coronavirus pandemic.
An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.
Western intelligence sources say Iranian-backed militias have long been entrenched in Aleppo province where they have bases and a command centre and installed advanced weapons, part of a growing presence across government-controlled Syria.
The Scientific Studies and Research Center is one of several facilities where Western intelligence and opposition sources suspect Syria, with the help of Iranian researchers, works on developing chemical weapons they accuse Syria of having used against civilians in rebel-held areas.
Damascus and its ally Moscow deny they have used chemical weapons that have killed hundreds of civilians in the course of the nine-year conflict and blame armed rebels for such attacks.
Israel’s anti-Iran policy
Israel has previously struck several military research facilities believed to have been a centre for chemical and biological weapons.
Israeli helicopters fired several rockets from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on targets inside southern Syria known to be a base for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, Syria and intelligence sources said.
Large blasts in an ammunition depot near Homs city on the same day were also believed to be from an Israeli raid, a war monitor and intelligence sources said.
Israel has acknowledged in recent years it has conducted many raids inside Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 where it sees Iran’s presence as a strategic threat.
Regional intelligence sources say that Israel’s escalating attacks on Syria are part of a shadow war sanctioned by Washington and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a significant escalation.
Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett told Israeli media last week that Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria.
Separately, a regional intelligence source said Israeli jets are believed to have hit Iranian-backed militias entrenched in the border town of al-Bukamal near the border with Iraq where Iraqi Shia paramilitary groups have a strong foothold.
The US military last January struck Iran-backed militia groups in areas in Iraq and Syria along that border area in what US officials then said was a response to escalating provocations from Iran.
Iran’s support alongside Russia has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against a military opposition that had seized large tracts of territory and sought to overthrow his authoritarian rule.
Israeli tanks hit Hamas after balloon attacks from Gaza |NationalTribune.com
The Israeli army says its tanks have hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued. An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of casualties from any of the incidents. Palestinian…
The Israeli army says its tanks have hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued.
An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from any of the incidents.
Palestinian sources said an Israeli artillery shell was fired towards a field control point east of Khan Younis, and another shell east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.
According to the Israeli fire brigade, the fire bombs – crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags inflated with helium – have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel.
The Israeli army has carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6, along with further tightening a devastating blockade it has imposed on the Palestinian territory since 2007.
Under the new measures, it banned the entry of fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant, plunging it into darkness.
The Gaza Strip has a population of two million people, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.
The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniya, said his movement – which controls the Gaza Strip – would not back down from wanting to end the Israeli blockade.
“Our decision and the decision of our people is to go ahead with ending this unjust siege in all its forms,” Haniya said in a statement issued by his office early on Sunday.
“The leadership of the movement is closely following the current situation in the Gaza Strip in terms of communications and mediation carried out by many parties to work to break and end the siege on the strip.”
An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to easing its 13-year blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the frontier between the two.
It was joined this week by Qatar’s Gaza envoy Mohammed al-Emadi who delivered the latest tranche of $30m in aid to the territory on Tuesday before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.
Sources close to the Qatari delegation said Israeli officials had told al-Emadi they were willing to end a punitive ban on fuel deliveries for Gaza’s power plant and ease their blockade if there was an end to the incendiary balloons.
Financial aid for the impoverished territory from gas-rich Qatar had been a significant component of the truce, first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.
Under those terms, Israel had said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some two million people. Those have yet to materialise.
Israeli planes target Gaza for seventh straight night |NationalTribune.com
Attacks on Gaza continued for the seventh straight night as Israeli warplanes targeted Hamas observation posts in what the Israeli army said was a response to Palestinian fire balloon attacks across the border. Tuesday’s air raids came as visiting Egyptian security officials strove to defuse the latest uptick in violence. “Fighter jets and [other] aircraft…
Attacks on Gaza continued for the seventh straight night as Israeli warplanes targeted Hamas observation posts in what the Israeli army said was a response to Palestinian fire balloon attacks across the border.
Tuesday’s air raids came as visiting Egyptian security officials strove to defuse the latest uptick in violence.
“Fighter jets and [other] aircraft struck underground infrastructures belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” an Israeli military statement said, linking the attack to “explosive and arson balloons launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel”.
Gaza security sources and witnesses said Tuesday’s raids hit Hamas lookout posts at Rafah in the south of the territory and Beit Lahia in the north.
Tensions have been rising for more than a week, with Israel accusing Hamas of firing rockets and launching bundles of balloons across the border fitted with incendiary or explosive devices.
Israel has closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, imposed a ban on fishing off the Gaza coast and staged nightly air raids for seven nights.
The Palestinian territory has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, with Israel citing security threats from Hamas for its land, air and naval blockade.
A Hamas source told AFP news agency that the group held talks with the Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Monday before the delegation left for meetings with the Israelis and the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
It was expected to return to Gaza after those talks, the source added.
“The occupation continued its aggression and carried out air strikes on Gaza after midnight,” the Hamas source said, adding that the attacks were seen as a “negative response” to the truce feelers.
There were no casualties in the raids, he added.
Despite a truce last year – backed by Egypt, Qatar and the UN – tensions between Hamas and Israel rise sporadically.
Hamas says Israel did not honour previous understandings which stipulated that Israel ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since Hamas’s takeover and allow for large-scale projects to help rescue the collapsing economy.
The only power plant in Gaza is scheduled to shut down due to the crossing’s closure, which has cut fuel supplies, exacerbated the power crisis and left Gaza’s two million residents with about four hours of electricity a day.
Israeli tanks attack Hamas targets in Gaza Strip |NationalTribune.com
The Israeli army says its tanks have attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rockets and airborne firebombs launched into southern Israel. “Tanks targeted a number of military observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said on Monday, referring to the group that…
The Israeli army says its tanks have attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rockets and airborne firebombs launched into southern Israel.
“Tanks targeted a number of military observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said on Monday, referring to the group that rules the enclave.
The army said that, in addition to cross-border attacks with explosives and incendiary devices suspended from balloons, dozens of people had also “instigated riots along the Gaza Strip security fence” on Sunday evening.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007. Israel cites security threats from Hamas for its land and naval blockade.
The latest incidents follow a week of heightened tensions, during which Israel has also closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing with the Gaza Strip and shut down Gaza’s permitted coastal fishing zone on Sunday.
Palestinian officials said the closure of the crossing in particular affected the importation of construction materials.
On Thursday, Israel said it would stop shipments of fuel into Gaza in response to the incendiary balloons.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the measure a “grave act of aggression” that would deepen Gaza’s economic hardship.
The Israeli army said Palestinian “rioters burned tyres, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it” on Saturday evening.
That was followed on Sunday by Israeli air attacks on Gaza, including what a military statement called “a military compound used to store rocket ammunition” belonging to Hamas.
Despite a truce last year backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.
Speaking from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett said the escalation was related to the dire economic situation inside Gaza, explaining that the enclave has seen increasing levels of unemployment and more people living under the poverty line.
“Hamas has a real problem to deal with, and as we’ve seen in the past during such phases, Hamas tends to turn up the temperature. That’s what seems to be happening. There has been a return to the launching of incendiary balloons and kites and setting of fires.
“The calculation, it seems, is that they want to see Israel make good on some of the commitments Hamas says Israel made last year when there was an understanding reached to try and bring some calm after a series of escalations, such allowing more international contributions to allow for rebuilding infrastructure, the start of an industrial zone … and increased electricity,” said Fawcett.
The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.
Palestinian anger has flared since Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday agreed to normalise relations, a move many Palestinians saw as a betrayal of their cause by the Gulf country.
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