Israeli jets strike what army says is Gaza rocket workshop
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli aircraft struck a rocket production workshop in the Gaza Strip early Thursday, the Israeli military said, hours after Palestinian militants fired a rocket toward Israel.
The exchange further raised tensions during a particularly violent period in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli military said the workshop contained chemicals and was run by the militant Hamas group, which controls Gaza.
Late Wednesday, Israeli air defenses intercepted a rocket from Gaza, the army said.
There were no reports of casualties from the rocket or the airstrike.
Last week, Gaza militants and Israel broke months of cross-border calm by exchanging rockets and airstrikes after Israel killed 10 Palestinians, most of them militants, in a military operation in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin.
The latest friction point appeared to be over Palestinian prisoners held by Israel on security charges. Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist and a senior member of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, has pledged even tougher treatment of the prisoners in recent days.
Ben-Gvir said rockets from Gaza won’t stop him from implementing punitive policies against the prisoners. He called for an urgent Security Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue.
In Palestinian society, prisoners are generally revered as heroes, with virtually every Palestinian family having had members jailed by Israel on security charges over the course of the decades-long conflict. Several thousand are locked up at any given time, with charges ranging from stone-throwing to deadly attacks on Israelis.
In a statement Tuesday, Hamas condemned what it said were assaults by Israeli prison guards against Palestinian detainees, particularly female prisoners.
The Israeli Prison Service said the problems started Friday when it placed dozens of Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement after they celebrated a Palestinian attack outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem in which seven people were killed.
A female Palestinian detainee tried to set fire to her cell in protest, the prison service said. In an unrelated move, the prison service removed televisions from three cells in Israel’s Ofer Prison near the city of Ramallah.
Amani Srahneh from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a group representing former and current prisoners, said the “escalatory measures and this new Israeli government’s policy of inciting against prisoners” was creating a tense situation.
Israeli-Palestinian violence has spiked in recent days as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited with a call for calm.
Last week’s army raid in the Jenin camp was followed by the shooting attack near the Jerusalem synagogue on Friday and another Jerusalem shooting in which a 13-year-old Palestinian wounded two Israelis.
Since then, Israel has approved a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians.