Israel's air force bombed nearly 30 targets in the besieged Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip on March 13.
The Israeli military said it pounded the territory in retaliation for rockets fired into southern Israel by Islamic Jihad resistance fighters. But the group said the rocket fire was itself a response to an Israeli air strike on Gaza on March 11 that killed three of its members.
Hamas, which governs Gaza, was not involved in the rocket strikes, yet some of its bases were targeted in Israel's bombing raids. Hamas spokesperson Ihab al-Ghassin said: “We hold the occupation responsible, we warn of the consequences of any escalation and we reiterate that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself.”
Israel's far-right foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to the rockets by saying his country had “no choice” but to militarily reoccupy the strip. Israeli forces left Gaza in 2005, though Tel Aviv has subjected it to an inhuman blockade and periodic bombing ever since.
Islamic Jihad said it had agreed through Egyptian mediation to stop firing if Israel would also agree to a truce. "As long as the occupation honours the calm, we will honour the calm,” the group's Gaza leader, Khaled al-Batch, said.
[Abridged from Morning Star Online.]