IDF Attacks Terror Targets in Gaza, Intercepts Hamas Flotilla Attempt

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Dozens of mortars and rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Tuesday, with the Israeli army striking dozens of "military targets" in Gaza in response.

Israeli fighter pilots struck more than 35 terrorist targets in seven separate sites belonging to Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization, and its allied Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. "The Palestinians will be returned to the Gaza Strip".

He told AFP that Gaza's rulers Hamas were also committed to it, though there was no immediate confirmation from Hamas or Israel.

Islamic Jihad announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Israel late Tuesday, after the worst flare-up since a 2014 war. They attacked in the morning as Israeli children were walking to school.

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Israel's military said it was not seeking an escalation, but warned Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008.

The continued rocket and mortar attacks despite the restrained Israeli military response - carefully gauged to avoid casualties in the Gaza Strip, even among the terrorist factions - have increased the chances that Israeli leaders are likely to see no option other than a comprehensive military response to end the rocket and mortar attacks on its civilian population.

The clashes raised fears of another round of conflict in Gaza.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.'s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said he was deeply concerned by "the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards communities in southern Israel".

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Amid worldwide condemnation of its use of lethal force at the mass demonstrations that began on March 30, Israel said numerous dead were militants and that the army was repelling attacks on the border fence. Palestinians and their supporters say most of the protesters were unarmed civilians and Israel was using excessive force against them.

The Palestinian Authority claimed the 17 individuals arrested by Israel were "mainly university students, but also included cancer patients and protesters wounded during the Great March of Return and seeking medical care outside of the besieged Gaza Strip".

More than two million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave.

The majority of some 28 projectiles were intercepted by Israeli air defences and no injuries were reported.

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The Israeli military confirmed over 60 airstrikes throughout Gaza, including an unfinished tunnel near the southern city of Rafah that crossed under the border into Egypt and from there into Israeli territory.