December 22, 2014
Israel Launches Airstrike On Hamas, Claims It Was 'Warning'

Israel launched an airstrike on Saturday against what it claims was a "Hamas terror infrastructure site." The airstrike is retaliation for a Palestinian rocket attack that was launched on Friday. Neither attack caused causalities or injuries, but they do increase the risk of another drawn out conflict in Gaza.

According to the Associated Press, Palestinian residents in Gaza heard two explosions in Gaza's Khan Yunis region, an area known to have a militant training site.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesperson for the Israeli military, stated that the army "will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well being of the civilians of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible and accountable for today's attack against Israel."

According to Voice of America, Israel says the airstrike is a warning against future rocket launches. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned that not even a single rocket attack would be tolerated. Although some speculate that a rogue group, not Hamas, could have fired the rocket, the defense minister insists that Hamas rules the Gaza, and is therefore responsible.

The last war between Israel and Palestinians took place in the summer, involving thousands of Hamas rocket attacks, followed by retaliatory airstrikes and eventually a ground invasion. UN statistics claim that about 2,100 Palestinians died in the seven week conflict, along with 72 Israelis, including six civilians.

The airstrike also comes at an unusual time in the politics surrounding Hamas. AP reports that for procedural reasons, the EU has taken the group off of its list of terrorist organizations.

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was outraged, calling Hamas "a murderous terror organization" and demanding that the EU return the group to the list immediately.

The EU's move follows closely with Jimmy Carter's opinion of Hamas. As the Inquisitr reported, Jimmy Carter called on Western governments to formally recognize Hamas as a political actor, claiming that there was little chance for peace otherwise.

There was also a clash between Palestinian protesters and Israeli military forces at a West Bank check point near the village of Turmus Aya. No injuries were reported from the fight.

Another conflict could potentially risk the relaxed security at the borders for the Christmas season. Israeli forces are currently allowing Christians from the West Bank to visit families in the Gaza Strip. Travel between the territories is usually restricted by Israel for security reasons.

Israel also said that security checkpoints would open longer to allow more access to the West Bank city of Bethlehem for the Christmas season.

[Image Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Wikimedia Commons]