Palestine militants fires rockets into Israel


The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has fired a barrage of rockets into Israel as fighting raged in Gaza and Israeli tanks advanced deeper in parts of the enclave, residents and officials said.

Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas – both of whom are backed by Iran – said its fighters fired rockets towards several Israeli communities near the fence with Gaza in response to “the crimes of the Zionist enemy against our Palestinian people”.

The volley of about 20 rockets caused no casualties, the Israeli military said. But the attack showed militants still possess rocket capabilities almost nine months into an offensive that Israel says is aimed at neutralising threats against it.

The Israeli military says rockets fired into the country came from the Khan Younis area. (EPA PHOTO)

Residents of several neighbourhoods in eastern Khan Younis, which is in southern Gaza, said they had received audio messages from Israeli phone numbers ordering them to leave their homes.

“For your safety, you must evacuate immediately to the humanitarian zone,” army spokesperson Avichay Adraee posted on social media platform X in a call to residents and displaced people living in those areas.

Some suggested this could mean Israeli forces will return to the area, which they left several weeks ago. The Israeli military said in a statement earlier on Monday the rockets were fired from the Khan Younis area.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was nearing its goal of taking out the military capabilities of Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza and led the October 7 assault on Israel that sparked the war. Less intense operations would continue, he said.

“We are advancing to the end of the phase of eliminating the terrorist army of Hamas, and there will be a continuation to strike its remnants,” Netanyahu said.

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Some 38,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced. (AP PHOTO)

Violence also flared on Monday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian health ministry said a woman and a boy were killed in the city of Tulkarm during an operation by Israeli forces. A day earlier, an Israeli strike in the same area killed an Islamic Jihad member.

In some parts of Gaza, militants continue to stage attacks on Israeli forces in areas that the army had left months ago.

Israeli tanks deepened incursions into the Shejaia suburb of eastern Gaza City for a fifth day, and tanks advanced further in western and central Rafah, in southern Gaza near the border with Egypt, residents said.

Israel has signalled that its operation in Rafah, meant to stamp out Hamas, will soon be concluded. After the intense phase of the war is over, its forces will focus on smaller scale operations meant to stop Hamas reassembling, officials say.

The war began when Hamas-led fighters burst into southern Israel on October 7, killed 1200 people and took around 250 hostages, including civilians and soldiers, back into Gaza, according to Israeli tallies. The offensive launched by Israel in retaliation has killed nearly 38,000 people, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has left the heavily built-up coastal enclave in ruins.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has nearly taken out Hamas’ military capabilities. (AP PHOTO)

Arab mediators’ efforts to secure a ceasefire, backed by the United States, have stalled. Hamas says any deal must end the war and bring a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel says it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting until Hamas is eradicated.

Israeli authorities released 54 Palestinians it had detained during the war, Palestinian border officials said.

Among them was Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, the director of Al Shifa Hospital, arrested by the military when its forces first stormed the medical facility in November. He said detainees had been abused during their detention, including being deprived of food and medicine, and that some had died.