Palestinian militants fired three rockets into Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said, hours after an airstrike against a Hamas target in Gaza killed a Palestinian civilian.
Palestinians carry the body of Bahajat Zaalan, 42, killed in an Israeli air strike on a Hamas training camp near his home in Gaza City, during his funeral at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.
The rockets landed in Israeli territory but caused no casualties, the military said. Air-raid sirens and bomb shelters have helped keep civilian casualties low in southern Israel over years of rocket fire from Gaza.
The latest exchange followed several days of violence in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Earlier Friday, Israel carried out multiple airstrikes against Hamas facilities. One damaged a house next to a targeted site, killing a 42-year-old civilian and wounding several members of his family, according to Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmia.
Other houses were damaged by fire or shrapnel and a total of 25 people were wounded, Abu Salmia said.
Israel’s military released a statement Friday expressing regret for harm to bystanders but blaming Hamas for choosing “to operate while embedded within a civilian population, using them as a human shield to protect their actions.”
The military said the civilians were not directly harmed by the airstrikes but by the explosion of rockets stored at the sites that were hit.
On Wednesday, an Israeli airstrike hit a group of militants in Gaza, killing one and wounding two others. Israel said it targeted militant squads preparing to fire rockets into southern Israel.
And on Thursday, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a car near a crowded park in Gaza City, killing two militants, including one from Hamas’ military wing, and wounding five bystanders. Israel says the militants were planning to infiltrate Israel to carry out attacks.
The strikes Thursday touched off rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.
In Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned what he called an “unjustified and serious escalation by the Zionist enemy.”
Speaking Friday at a Gaza City mosque, he said Egypt was helping to mediate an end to the latest round of fighting.
In the West Bank Friday, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at a weekly demonstration of about 100 Palestinians, hitting one protester in the head with a gas canister, said Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli activist who joined the rally.
He identified the protester as Mustafa Tamimi and said he was severely injured.
The weekly rallies in the village of Nabi Saleh are in protest of Jewish settlement activity in the area.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers treated the Palestinian man at the scene before taking him to an Israeli hospital for further treatment.
The military is investigating the incident, the army spokeswoman said.
Source: The Associated Press | MATTI FRIEDMAN