Israeli bombardment of Gaza escalates

Israeli army carries out 160 airstrikes in Gaza overnight, stepping up a bombardment in which dozens have been killed.

Tel Aviv – The Israeli army carried out 160 airstrikes in Gaza overnight, escalating a bombardment that has killed at least 27 Palestinians and wounded more than 100.

Local media reported on Wednesday morning that one of the airstrikes targeted the house of a commander in the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. An unknown number of casualties were reported.

The latest strikes killed an 80-year-old woman at Al-Mughraqa village in southern Gaza City, according to al-Qedra.Another blew up the house of Hafez Hamad, a leader of the military wing of Islamic Jihad. He was killed along with at least four women and children, according to neighbours and hospital officials.

The Israeli cabinet has authorised the army to call up 40,000 reservists. Only a fraction of them have so far been mobilised, though officials hinted at a lengthy campaign in Gaza.

“We are preparing for a battle against Hamas which will not end within a few days,” defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, said on Tuesday.

Four rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel between midnight and sunrise, the army said, three of them at the southern city of Be’er Sheva.

A salvo of five rockets was fired at Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour. Most of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and could be heard exploding south and east of the city centre.

The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they fired M-75s, a locally-made model with an 80km range.

One rocket was also fired overnight at Hadera, about 100km from Gaza, the longest-range strike yet.

Five members of Hamas were also killed in a makeshift naval commando attack on a military base in Zikim, near the southern city of Israel.

There were clashes overnight throughout the occupied West Bank between Palestinians and Israeli troops. At least six people were injured near Ramallah, and protests were also reported in Bethlehem and Hebron.

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