Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on multiple locations in the Gaza Strip overnight, injuring two in the first round of bombings near Gaza City shortly after 11 p.m.

Injuries were reported in the first strike, which hit the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood east of Gaza City, while the Abu Jarad neighborhood to the south was pummeled with four strikes.

Local officials called the series of strikes an "escalation," saying that Israeli forces have operated with increased aggression since an attack on a patrol which entered Gaza Wednesday morning, in the same area the second strike hit.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said fighters had attacked a group of Israeli tanks and bulldozers apparently preparing to tear-up lands in the border area Wednesday, and were met with artillery fire which killed one brigadesman and injured ten others, including three children.

Also overnight Wednesday, the Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said fighters launched three mortar shells toward the Nahal Oz military base military, and another two toward Israeli infrastructure east of Az-Zaytoun.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the strikes were in "response to rocket fire ... several hubs of terror [were bombed] during an extensive operation in the Gaza Strip. Hits were confirmed."

According to the statement, "These terror sites were targeted in response to yesterday's firing of rockets at the city of Be'er Sheva and other Western Negev communities."


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