Nine Palestinian militants have been killed in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, and there has been a break in the case of the murder of a Palestinian teenager.
Israeli warplanes struck 14 targets in Gaza, including one that hit a tunnel causing high casualties among fighters from the ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said it was retaliation for dozens of Palestinian rocket attacks. “We are acting to protect our people. We are targeting the terrorists in Gaza, those firing the rockets. And Hamas has to understand, this must stop,” he said.
Hamas vowed that Israel “will pay a tremendous price.”
Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said Israel started this escalation of violence and it was up to Israel to end it. Until then, he said, Hamas would defend the Palestinian people.
Israel stepped up air strikes on Hamas 10 days ago, after blaming the group for the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Hamas responded with rocket and mortar attacks.
Tension has also been running high in Jerusalem, after a revenge killing for the murder of the three seminary students. Israeli police have arrested six Jewish suspects in connection with the kidnap and murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian that set off riots in Jerusalem.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “We shall not cover [up] anything. We shall discover all the people that act criminally, killed, kidnapped, tortured and on that we shall not make any compromise. We are seriously and realistically trying to remain a democratic and human country.”
Police say three of the Israeli suspects have confessed to the murder and reconstructed the crime at a Jerusalem forest where the Palestinian teenager’s charred body was dumped. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the victim's father and said the attackers will be punished with the full force of the law.