Israel will ramp up air strikes on Gaza Strip: Premier

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JERUSALEM

Israel will intensify its air raids on the Gaza Strip, the country’s prime minister declared on Tuesday.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision came after consultations with the defense minister and the military chief at the headquarters of the Southern Command, according to statement from the premier’s office.

“We are in the midst of battle since yesterday. The Israeli army launched hundreds of raids against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement … we have hit a very large number of their specific targets,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli fighter jets continued to pound Palestinian homes and agricultural lands in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

The death toll in Israel’s deadly ongoing air offensive increased to 28 by Tuesday evening, including one woman and 10 children, while 152 more people have been injured since the air raids started on Monday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Tel Aviv launched air strikes on Gaza on Monday after Palestinian groups fired rockets in response to days of violence by Israel in Jerusalem.

According to Israeli media reports, two Israelis have been killed and eight more people injured, one of them seriously, in the rocket attacks.

Israel has been relentless in its aggression towards Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem since Friday, when its forces injured more than 200 Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in the world for Muslims, and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Heavily armed Israeli forces stormed the mosque compound twice again on Monday, firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at Palestinians, wounding more than 300.

In the Sheikh Jarrah area, tensions have been high since last week as Israeli settlers have swarmed in after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families.

Israeli forces and settlers have repeatedly assaulted Palestinians who have turned up to express solidarity with the families facing eviction, with many also having been detained.

* Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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