Israel bombs Gaza targets, after missile hits Israeli city

Thursday, February 24, 2011

GAZA CITY/TEL AVIV - Israeli jets bombed targets across the Gaza Strip overnight, after a missile struck the southern Israeli city of Beersheba for the first time in two years.

A military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv did not specify the number of sorties that began around midnight and ended at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) Thursday.

But she confirmed it was the most extensive bombing of targets since the three-week Gaza war in 2008-09.

A Palestinian witness said the targets included two training grounds of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement running Gaza, on the southern outskirts of Gaza City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but severe damage was reported.

On Wednesday, a Russian-style Grad rocket struck Beersheba, known as the capital of the Negev desert and home to some 200,000 people.

The missile hit the yard of a house. The occupants of the house escaped injury by hiding in a safe-room, after a warning siren had wailed in the city, sending people to shelters.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.

Many of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million were kept awake overnight by the noise of F-16 planes and Apache helicopter gunships flying overhead.

The Beersheba missile attack came after a day of several violent incidents in Gaza, including a clash east of Gaza City between an Israeli ground force and a group of Islamic Jihad militants along the border in which one militant was killed and 11 people injured.

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