Posted July 24, 2018 07:24:04An Israeli army soldier stands guard on the outskirts of Gaza City.
The Gaza Strip is under a crippling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has killed at least 2,000 Palestinians and driven millions of people to the brink of famine.
An estimated 1.5 million Israelis live in the strip, which was divided in the 1967 war.
A number of Israeli companies are making products that can be used in Gaza and its neighbors, including medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
A growing number of Israelis are also using the military as a way to bolster their domestic businesses and build up their influence abroad.
But Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was elected in 2008, has repeatedly said he will not allow Israel to attack Gaza.
“I have told the American people that Israel cannot go to war with us.
I will not permit it,” he said in an interview with CNN last year.
“I will not tolerate it.”
Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his armed forces to halt attacks on the strip.
But Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has not said whether Israel would begin military action again.
A senior Israeli official told the Israeli Army Radio that the Israeli Defense Forces will “respond to any new development with the utmost seriousness,” including by launching a “major operation.”
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has responded with a barrage of air strikes on targets in Gaza, including several that hit homes and a school.
The IDF said Friday it struck five Hamas targets in the enclave on Thursday and Friday.
The Israeli military said the air strikes were “prevented from harming civilians,” according to a statement from the military.
The strikes targeted six locations in Gaza where it said militants were firing rockets at Israeli forces.
A rocket hit the southern city of Ashkelon, injuring two people, and landed in open ground near the southern border fence with Israel, the IDF said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least seven people were killed in Israel, including four children.
It said an Israeli soldier was killed and two wounded in an Israeli air strike near Khan Younis.
The IDF said it struck targets in northern Gaza, where it also said it killed a senior Hamas militant.
In the northern Gaza Strip, a Hamas rocket fired at southern Israel landed in an open field, the army said.
The rocket, which exploded in the air, injured two people.
In Gaza, the Israeli military hit targets in Khan Younes, Gaza, killing a senior militant and injuring four others.
In the northern Israeli city of Sderot, an Israeli strike killed an Egyptian military soldier, the Israel Defense Forces said.
In Gaza, a Palestinian doctor who works for the World Health Organization was killed by Israeli fire while treating wounded Palestinians, the UN agency said.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the attack, saying it was carried out by a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
A Hamas spokesman denied the attack.
The rocket attack came a day after Israel launched a major offensive to wipe out Hamas in Gaza.
The assault included an attack on a Gaza military compound and a series of air raids on the enclave.
The military said it destroyed Hamas’s rocket-launching sites, killed dozens of Hamas fighters, and killed or wounded more than 1,400 militants.
The offensive, the largest by the Israeli armed forces in years, was aimed at crippling Hamas and preventing it from obtaining rocket-launch capability.
Israel said on Friday that it was aiming to hit 400 targets in Israel and the Gaza Strip by Monday, and to destroy another 600 targets by Tuesday.
Israel said it was striking a series, including rocket launchers, tunnel networks, and tunnels that had been dug into Israeli territory.
The latest offensive comes days after a series by Israel of airstrikes on the Gaza border.
The air strikes are aimed at halting a surge in Hamas rocket fire that had increased since the end of July.
The army said that it had struck more than 3,500 rockets, missiles, and projectiles from Gaza since the beginning of the year.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told reporters that the current escalation in the Gaza conflict was a direct result of the Gaza offensive, and urged the international community to support Israel’s actions.
“This is the biggest attack in the history of the region,” he told reporters.
“Israel must stop the rocket fire from Gaza and we have to stop Hamas from firing rockets in Israel.”
The military said Friday that more than 100 rockets were fired from Hamas territory into Israel.
Israel had not yet reported the number of rockets fired into Israel, and it said it did not know whether any of the projectiles had hit civilian areas.