Israeli strikes at Gaza Strip after rocket attacks from Hamas rival the Omar Brigades


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The Independent Online

Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip yesterday after the latest in a series of Palestinian rocket attacks that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the international community of ignoring. The Omar Brigades, an offshoot of the Jihadi Salafis, a Palestinian group that supports Islamic State (IS), claimed responsibility for Saturday’s salvo, which, like the Israeli strike, caused no casualties.

Israel closed its border crossings with the Hamas-controlled enclave and President Netanyahu hinted at a stronger Israeli military response if the cross-border attacks persist.

It was the third such rocket strike by the Jihadi Salafis, the radical rivals of Hamas, who are demanding the ruling Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip release imprisoned IS sympathisers and that Israel frees Palestinian inmates.

Political analysts in Gaza said the Salafis hoped the prospect of the collapse of Hamas’s ceasefire with Israel, after a 50-day war nearly a year ago, would pressure the group to free the men.

Israel said that as the dominant force in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bore overall responsibility for any rocket attacks from the enclave of 1.8 million Palestinians. President Netanyahu seized on the strikes to launch his own attack against international criticism of his right-wing government’s policies toward the Palestinians and its opposition to a burgeoning nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

“I did not hear anybody in the international community condemn this firing at us from Gaza, neither has the UN said a word,” he told his Cabinet in public remarks.