Israel attacks Gaza ahead of unity government investiture

Israel claims it was responding to rocket attack on its territory

Gulf News Report
Published: 12:52 June 2, 2014

Occupied Jerusalem: The Israeli occupation’s army conducted air strikes on Gaza early on Monday claiming that it was responding to alleged rocket fire on territory in its controls.

The Israeli attacks took place just hours before the swearing in of a new Palestinian government, which the Israelis have rejected.

The exchanges of fire took place as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to unveil a new government pieced together as part of a surprise April reconciliation agreement between leaders in the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, that has been fiercely opposed by the occupation.

Early on Monday, Israeli warplanes staged two bombing raids on targets in central and southern Gaza “following rocket fire on southern Israel”, a regime spokesman said.

“After two rockets were fired at Israeli territory over the last two days, the Israeli air force attacked two terrorist sites in central and southern Gaza,” he said, noting the raids were “successful”.

Meanwhile in the north, Israeli troops fired across the Syrian ceasefire line in the occupied Golan Heights after a projectile struck Israeli-claimed territory, the regime’s military said.

Army radio said three mortar shells had been fired from Syria, although only one had struck inside Israeli-claimed territory.

The Israelis, which is technically at war with Syria, occupied 1,200-square-kilometre of the Golan Heights plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the plateau has been tense, with a growing number of projectiles, mostly stray, hitting the Israeli side, prompting an occasional armed response.

The tension spiked just hours before the formal unveiling of the new Palestinian government at a ceremony at Abbas’ Muqataa headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The new government, which will be headed by Rami Hamdallah — the current prime minister in the West Bank — will count a total of 17 ministers. Five of them, including Hamdallah, hail from Gaza.

Although the formal line-up has not yet been made public, it has been pieced together by Abbas’s mainstream Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas movement.

Technocratic in nature, it will not have a political mandate but will be tasked with organising elections within six months.

Israel has vowed to boycott the new government, with officials reportedly warning that after it is sworn in, they would hold Abbas directly responsible for any rocket fire emanating from Gaza.

— with inputs from AFP

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