Israeli forces have launched numerous missile attacks on Gaza, killing at least 6 after a bomb struck a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 16. It is the eighth day of Israel’s ‘Pillar of Defense’ campaign, which has killed over 130 Palestinians so far.
Israeli war jets pummeled Gaza’s Al-Yarmouk football stadium with more than 10 consecutive attacks, Al Jazeera reports. Several casualties were reported following the assault.
The IDF claimed they are striking key Hamas targets, while the Palestinian Authority criticized the attacks for killing civilians.
The escalation of attacks comes off the back of a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv bus that left 16 people injured. Israel’s government called an emergency meeting in response to the first terrorist bombing in the city since 2006.
Dozens of armed men gathered on the Syrian side of the cease-fire line in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights Wednesday, prompting authorities to close a tourist site as a precaution, the Israeli military said.
An Israeli spokesman said it was unclear what the armed Syrians were doing. He said there was no violence or attempts to cross the border. He spoke on condition of anonymity under military rules.
Israeli forces there were on alert.
The armed men were not wearing uniforms. It was not clear if they were soldiers from the Syrian army or rebel forces battling President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Israelis are concerned that fighting from Syria’s civil war could spill across the border. Last month, several mortar shells exploded in Israeli-controlled territory. Nobody was hurt. Israel said the shells were misfired.
Israeli officials have also expressed concern that the frontier region could turn into a lawless area like Egypt’s Sinai desert, where Islamic militants have gained strength since the ouster last year of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Israel has been sending soldiers into Egypt’s Sinai desert to stop African migrants before they reach the border and handing them over to Egyptian forces, human rights groups charged in a report released Friday.
The groups called on Israel to stop the practice.
Israel has been increasingly concerned over the numbers of African migrants sneaking across the porous border. Most come from Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea. About 60,000 migrants are already in Israel, and some Israelis have expressed concern that the influx could harm the Jewish character of their state.
A senior Egyptian military official in Sinai denied that any Israeli soldiers entered Egypt to chase migrants. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
The Israeli military spokesman’s office said it would not confirm or deny the specific report, as is military policy. But it added, ”in line with protocol, Israeli military activity is within Israel.”
It said Israeli forces are working ”to prevent the infiltration of both hostile terror elements as well as criminal smuggling.” It said Israeli soldiers have stopped groups several times and held them ”until the arrival of Egyptian forces that took the infiltrators,” but did not comment on where this took place.
The groups said the Israeli military censor banned Israel-based journalists from writing about the report.
The use of Israeli soldiers just inside Egyptian territory, with apparent Egyptian consent, would be a startling move, given widespread anti-Israeli sentiment among Egyptians and the strong sensitivities over Sinai, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and returned after the 1979 peace deal between the two countries. Cooperation with Israel is a touchy subject in Egypt, which has had cool relations with Israel since the peace treaty was signed.
Israel will block any influx of Syrian refugees into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday as Syrian rebels pressed home a campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
“They (refugees) have not chosen to come close to us, but in the event of the regime’s downfall, which could happen…, (Israeli forces) here are alert and ready, and if we have to stop waves of refugees, we will stop them,” Barak said while gazing across the frontier, fighting visible in the distance.
An Israeli defence source noted that Barak, in his comments, spoke only about preventing a flood of refugees, apparently not closing the door completely to Syrians seeking safety.
Barak was speaking to reporters at an Israeli forward position on the occupied Golan Heights, territory captured from Syria in a 1967 war. An Israeli security fence separates the Golan from Syria, to the northeast, along a disengagement line that has been quiet for decades.
Some two km (1.2 mile) away, smoke from mortar shells could be seen billowing over the Syrian village of Jubata and gunfire was heard as Syrian insurgents kept up pressure in a 16-month-old revolt against Assad.
Israel’s army chief, Benny Gantz, said in January that it was preparing to take in Syrian refugees from Assad’s minority Alawite sect who might flee if he fell. The rebels are mainly from Syria’s majority Sunni Muslim community.