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Over 40 killed in two days of Israeli bombardment on Gaza
Hundreds of air attacks shake Gaza, Palestinian fighters fire rockets into Israel
Wednesday July 9, 2014 8:51 PM, Agencies

The Israeli army carried out 160 airstrikes in Gaza overnight, escalating a bombardment that has killed at least 41 Palestinians and wounded more than 100.

Israel air-raids Gaza

Palestinian officials on Wednesday said the Israeli attacks, which number in their hundreds,
had also wounded more than 300 people. Palestinian fighters have continued to fire mortar
bombs and rockets into Israel, with some reaching Tel Aviv. No casualties have been reported.

Local media in Gaza said that one of the Israeli attacks targeted the house of a commander in the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. Casualties figures are unknown.

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 neighbors and hospital officials.

The Israeli cabinet has authorized 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.

A video statement released by Hamas detailed several conditions for ending the rocket fire, including the release of dozens of prisoners detained in recent weeks. The group also demanded that Israel stop trying to "sabotage" a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah announced in April.

Israel has detained nearly 900 Palestinians in raids since June 12, when three teenage settlers were kidnapped while hitchhiking home from their religious seminary in the occupied West Bank.

The detainees include dozens of people who were released in 2011 as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas. The Arab League said that it would call for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the situation.

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