After more than a week filled with rocket barrages upon Israel from Palestinians in Gaza, Israel responded with jet aircraft attacks Saturday.
This is the bloodiest day for Palestinians in more than 20 years.
Israel has said its many warnings had gone unnoticed and a strike back at Palestinian militants was necessary….
The Israeli air attack killed at least 155 people…. Other news sources said the count of the dead will exceed 170….
Smoke rises from the Gaza town of Rafah after Israeli airstrikes on Saturday.
From the Jerusalem Post
Just days after the cabinet gave the military final approval to counter ongoing Palestinian rocket fire against communities in the western Negev, the IDF launched a massive operation, striking Hamas installations throughout the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Israeli aircraft launched air attacks across Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 155 people, including the Hamas police chief and other officials, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources.
Above: An F-16 of the Israeli Air Force
Hamas spokesperson said that at least 170 people were killed in the attacks. Gaza health official Moawiya Hassanain said earlier that over 120 people were killed, and at least 200 injured. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm either report.
The Hamas military wing issued a statement saying it had fired a rocket toward the Israeli city of Askelon, and Israeli sources confirmed one Israeli was killed and two hurt when the rocket made a direct hit on a house.
Palestinian medical sources said 250 people were wounded in the air raid in Gaza.
The strikes followed several days of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.
A statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Israeli aircraft attacked “a series of Hamas targets and infrastructure facilities.”
“The Air Force activity came as a result of the continuation of terror activity by Hamas terror organization from the Gaza Strip, and the duration of rocket launching and targeting Israeli civilians,” the IDF statement said.
Hamas immediately threatened violent retaliation against Israel.
According to witnesses, among the killed was Hamas police chief Maj.-Gen. Tawfik Jaber.
Despite the massive casualties, Hamas remained defiant, vowing revenge and calling on all other Palestinian factions to join in the fight.
Minutes after the first wave of airstrikes hit areas in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinians reported a second wave which targeted installations in the center and the north of the Strip. Channel 22 reported that 60 planes were involved in the attack, and nearly 100 targets were hit.
From the New York Times
The Israeli Air Force on Saturday launched a massive attack on Hamas targets throughout Gaza in retaliation for the recent heavy rocket fire from the area, hitting mostly security headquarters, training compounds and weapons storage facilities, the Israeli military and witnesses said.