JERUSALEM – The Israeli army says it has launched an offensive operation against the Gaza Strip to quell rocket attacks, and a Palestinian official says Israeli airstrikes have wounded at least nine Palestinians.
A Twitter statement from the Israeli army early today says Operation Protective Edge is intended to stop the terror Israel’s citizens face on a daily basis.
The airstrikes come after Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel late Monday, as the Israeli military rushed more forces to the border.
The latest violence came as Israel pressed forward with its investigation of six Jewish youths suspected of abducting and killing a Palestinian teenager. An Israeli official said three of the youths had confessed to the attack.
I am ashamed on behalf of my nation and grieve with you, President Shimon Peres told the father of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in a phone call.
The only thing left for all of us to do is to ensure that no more children are murdered, and no more tears are shed by mothers.
Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, was among top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reached out to the family in person or by telephone.
Netanyahu, who has condemned Abu Khdeir’s death and tried to calm the public, said he had expressed his condolences to the family.
I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son, a statement quoted Netanyahu as saying.
Tensions have been high since three Israeli teenagers kidnapped June 12 in the West Bank were later found dead, followed by last week’s slaying of the Palestinian youth in what many suspect was a revenge attack.
Israel’s Channel 10 TV said the suspects in Abu Khdeir’s death were the son and five grandsons of a prominent rabbi in Jerusalem, without further identifying him. It said two suspects used the rabbi’s car for the kidnapping without his knowledge.
Throughout the unrest, Gaza militants have launched more than 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, including close to 100 on Monday alone. Israel has responded with dozens of airstrikes but has not been able to halt the attacks.
Eight Palestinian militants were killed in fighting Monday, the highest death toll yet. Among the dead were six Hamas militants who Israel said were killed in an accidental blast in a tunnel packed with explosives.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman, said the army was moving two infantry forces to the Gaza border and had received authorization to mobilize up to 1,500 reservists.