Israel launches strikes on besieged Gaza strip, imposes 'indefinite' cement ban

Israel launches strikes on besieged Gaza strip, imposes 'indefinite' cement ban
Tensions continue to rise in Gaza after Israel's brutal response to incendiary balloons and rockets fired from the besieged strip.
2 min read
02 February, 2020
Israeli fighter jets and helicopters battered sites in Gaza on Saturday, where Israeli authorities imposed an indefinite ban on cement.

No casaulties were reported in the latest round of air strikes across the northern city of Beit Lahia, which Israel said targeted underground facillities, including a war room, allegedly used by Hamas' military wing, according to a formal statement.

A video circulating on social media, whose veracity cannot be independently verified, purportetly shows the blinding flash of a large explosion erupting in the Gazan night sky.

Local Israeli media say the attacks were a response to a rocket launched into Israel earlier, which fell in open territory in the southern Negev Regional Council.

Benny Gantz, a leading candidate in Israel's upcoming general election, was forced take refuge with his team in a shelter while campaigning in the region, local media report.

The former military general heads the Blue and White party, and is the chief rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the March 2 election.

Also on Saturday, Israeli authorities announced an indefinite ban on cement imports into the strip, as well as stripping 500 Gazans traders of their permits.

The measures are an effort to block the entry of materials which Israel claim Hamas uses to construct rockets and incendiary baloons, fired into the Gaza envelope, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site. 

Tensions between Israel and the militant group in control of the strip have flared up in recent days, following Hamas' unequivocal rejection of US President Donald Trump's 'deal of the century', which is seen as heavily biased to Israel.

Read more: Israeli warplanes strike Hamas targets in Gaza after border fire 

Israeli Minister of Defence Naftali Bennet placed his country's military on standby for the possibility of a new campaign in Gaza ahead of Israel's upcoming March elections, Israel-based Channel 12 reported on Sunday.

Trump's solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict has enraged Palestinians, with proposals which allow Israel free reign to annex swathes of territory in the occupied West Bank, as well as the Jordan river.

Israel carried out air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza early on Friday after three rockets were fired the previous evening, causing neither casualties nor damage, the army said.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

However, over the past year, the Islamists have gradually shaped an informal truce with Israel, prompting the Jewish state to ease its crippling blockade in exchange for calm.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected