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Israel Moves Reinforcements to Gaza Border

  • VOA News

The Israeli army is moving troop reinforcements toward the border with Gaza after an increase in rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.

Israeli jets struck targets in Gaza Thursday while militants continued sending rockets into southern Israel. The violence comes amid mounting tension over the killing of an Arab teenager in east Jerusalem in a suspected revenge killing after three Israeli teens were murdered.

The Israeli military said its jets targeted 15 "Hamas terror sites" in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials say 10 civilians were wounded. Among them was Ahmad al-Hatoum.



"My wife was preparing [the morning meal during Ramadan], when we suddenly heard a big explosion. I felt the fire inside my house come towards me and my daughters," he said. "We ran outside the house and found our damaged car, as you can see it, and all the houses around were damaged. It is completely damaged."

Israeli officials say the strikes were in response to over 20 rockets fired at Israel since Wednesday. Most of the rockets were intercepted, but at least two struck houses in the border town of Sderot. No injuries were reported.

Residents anxious

Sderot resident Avihai Giorno said his family is on edge.

"It's impossible not to start each day with fear. And the children, even though I tell them not to be afraid, when it reaches you it changes everything, the whole situation," Giorno said.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities continue investigating the death of 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, who was kidnapped and whose body was found in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday.

Palestinian officials blame Israeli settlers for the alleged attack, saying it is revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens who were buried this week. Israel blames that attack on Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. It denies the charge.

Netanyahu, US condemn murder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu tried to calm the situation Thursday saying he "unequivocally" condemned the killing of the Palestinian teenager. He said "murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism, they have no place in our democracy.''

Palestinian protesters Wednesday threw stones at Israeli riot police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The situation was calm on Thursday, but more protests were expected when Khudair is buried.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the murder of Abu Khudair "heinous" and urged both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to prevent tensions from escalating.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the crime is "sickening." He said there are "no words to convey adequately our condolences."

UN condemns violence flare-up

The U.N. human rights chief condemned both Palestinians and Israelis for the flare up of violence across the Israel-Gaza border.

"From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel's excessive acts of retaliation,'' U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told journalists in Vienna on Thursday.

"I am extremely concerned by what's happening,'' she added on the sidelines of a conference.

She also condemned both the killing of three Israeli teens and the killing of a Palestinian teen, whose body was found in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

"This level of retaliation is excessive and this is what is spawned when governments do not respect the rule of law, when governments themselves resort to excessive forms of retaliation,'' Pillay said.

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