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Reports of a woman being killed and 15 others injured in southern Israel as the armed Hamas movement announced the military operation.
Palestinian fighters launched the largest attack on Israel in years, infiltrating areas of southern Israel amid a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, killing at least one woman and wounding 15 others, Israeli medical workers said.
Agence France-Presse reported that the rocket firing began from multiple locations in Gaza, starting at 06:30 a.m. local time (03:30 GMT) on Saturday and continued for approximately half an hour.
Later, Muhammad Deif, a senior Hamas military commander, announced the start of a military operation in a broadcast on Hamas media, calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.
Deif said that the missiles that were fired marked the beginning of “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm,” according to reports.
“We have decided to say enough is enough,” Deif said, urging all Palestinians to confront Israel.
“This is the day of the great battle [to] End the last occupation,” he said, adding that 5,000 missiles had been launched.
The Israeli army asked Israelis living around the Gaza Strip to stay in their homes, and warned that Hamas “will pay a heavy price for its actions.”
Israeli media reported that armed fighters opened fire on passers-by in the town of Sderot in southern Israel, and footage circulating on social media showed Palestinian fighters in uniform engaging in clashes in the border town. Another video on social media shows a burning Israeli tank. The authenticity of the videos could not immediately be verified.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with his senior security officials on Saturday morning.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said that the “element of surprise” in the early morning attack, which appeared to involve Palestinian fighters in trucks inside Israel and on gliders, as well as the firing of rockets, would leave the Israelis “unfortunate.” “In shock and shock.” “Surprised.”
Saturday’s fighting comes after weeks of rising tensions along Israel’s troubled border with Gaza, and clashes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank where the Israeli military has killed about 200 Palestinians so far this year.
Palestinian attacks on Israel led to the deaths of about 30 people this year.
This is a breaking news story. More to follow soon.
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