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Israel Hits Gaza, Reduces Fuel Flow in Punitive Measure

Israel Hits Gaza, Reduces Fuel Flow in Punitive Measure

Monday, 26 August, 2019 - 07:15
Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Ajour

Israeli aircraft carried out multiple strikes on the Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas movement early Monday in response to earlier rocket fire from the improvised enclave into Israel, the army said in a statement.

Israeli authorities also announced a punitive reduction in the flow of fuel to the territory's main power station, meaning a deep cut in the already rationed electricity supply.

Three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday night, the Israeli army said.

"Three launches were identified from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory," it said in a statement. "Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system."

"In response, a short while ago, (Israeli air force) fighter jets struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip, including the office of a Hamas battalion commander," a statement Monday morning added.

A Palestinian security source said there were no casualties.

Sunday’s fire from Gaza comes after Israel staged airstrikes in Syria a day earlier against what it said were Iranian drones being readied to attack Israel. Two Israeli drones also crashed in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

A separate statement from Israeli defense ministry unit COGAT said the latest fuel cut to Gaza was personally ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister.

"Netanyahu ordered to downsize the transfer of fuel through the Kerem Shalom (border) crossing to the power station in Gaza by half, effective this morning and until further notice," it said in English.

Netanyahu is fighting for reelection in a potentially tough general election on September 17 with critics from his right-wing power base calling for tougher action against the Hamas.

Nevertheless, analysts say, he is anxious to avoid escalation ahead of the polls.

Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and Palestinian attempts to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with Israeli strikes, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Israel has also used fishing restrictions and fuel supplies as weapons.

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