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Israel bombs Gaza as Palestinians mourn woman killed in border protest

Two targets in Gaza City were hit by the Israeli strikes [Getty file photo]

Date of publication: 13 January, 2019

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The strikes come a day after a Gaza woman was shot dead by Israeli forces during weekly 'Great Return March' protests and clashes along the Gaza border.

Israel struck targets in Gaza late on Saturday following rocket attacks from the besieged enclave, a day after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian woman during peaceful protests near the border.

"Earlier tonight, a rocket was launched from Gaza towards Israeli territory. In response, IDF (Israeli army) fighter jets targeted two of Hamas' underground structures in the Gaza Strip," Israel Defence Forces tweeted.

Two targets in Gaza City were hit by the Israeli strikes and no one was harmed, security sources in Gaza said.

The strikes come a day after a Gaza woman was shot dead by Israeli forces during weekly 'Great Return March' protests and clashes along the Gaza border.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered Saturday for her funeral. Her death marks this year’s first fatality from the weekly mass demonstrations.

Amal al-Taramsi, a 43-year-old activist who had regularly attended the protests, was shot the day before. Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group, said she was around 200 metres from the fence when she was shot in the head.

Of the scores of Palestinians killed since the protests were launched last spring, only three were women. A 21-year-old medic and a 14-year-old girl were killed last year. An Israeli soldier was also killed last year.

Amal’s mother, Halima, sobbed as she sat in the corner of her home waiting for her daughter’s body, which was wrapped with a Palestinian flag.

The Israelis “should leave our lands and let us alone to live in freedom,” she said, urging Palestinian factions to unite against Israel and US President Donald Trump.

Gaza border tensions have soared since the March 30 start of what the Palestinians call the "Great March of Return", a mass protest movement demanding the right for Palestinians to return to homes they fled or were expelled from during the war surrounding Israel's creation. The protests also call for the lifting of a crippling decade-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Israel has allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million in aid each month since November to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants, as part of de-escalation efforts

Protesters have often moved right up to the border fence every Friday and occasionally breached it.

Over 230 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly by Israeli fire during border clashes but also by air strikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

The demonstrations draw Palestinians of all ages, but most gather several hundred metres from the fence. Israeli forces across the border often respond with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and even live fire.

Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as a cover for attacks and says it only uses force to defend its borders. The military said some 13,000 people took part in Friday’s demonstrations, with a few protesters briefly crossing into Israel through openings in the fence before returning.

Egyptian mediators have visited Gaza in recent days to try and shore up a two-month-old cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, who have fought three wars since 2008 and were nearly embroiled in a fourth in November.

Israel has allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million in aid each month since November to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants. The latest batch was delayed after a rocket attack earlier this month, but is widely expected to be delivered if the situation remains calm. The weekly protests have been more subdued since the understandings were reached.

Qatar has also bought fuel for Gaza’s solo power plant, helping to reduce power outages. Electricity is still only available for a few hours every day, and the tap water in Gaza is undrinkable. The blockade has devastated the local economy in Gaza, where unemployment exceeds 50 percent.

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