Israel, Hamas exchange blows at weekend

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IDF spokesperson Lt. Cl. Jonathan Conricus told journalists that 40 targets were struck in the offensive conducted by the army.

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding consultations since Friday night.

JERUSALEM, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Israeli forces on Saturday afternoon conducted the third wave of strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip, as rockets from the isolated territory were continuously fired into Israel.

Since protests began at the end of March this year, over 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the border.

The IDF announced it had struck two Hamas tunnels between Friday midnight and early Saturday morning, as part of its airstrikes.

Other entities and organizations and the IDF have tried to communicate by different means in an attempt to avoid a further escalation, said Conricus.

Remains of a rocket fired from Gaza is seen near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on July 14, 2018. Israeli forces on Saturday afternoon conducted the third wave of strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip, as rockets from the isolated territory were continuously fired into Israel. (Xinhua/JINI)

In recent weeks, militants from Gaza have increased the use of arson kites and balloons, and thousands of acres have been burnt in southern Israel.

At least 31 rockets and mortars were fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip between Friday midnight and early Saturday morning, and six of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, said the IDF.

The focus of the attack was a widescale strike on the Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, including urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers and offices, said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in a statement.

Israel has been subject to criticism for its firing policy, with claims that it is using excessive force. Hamas said protests on the border have been peaceful and are meant to break the Israeli blockade on the territory which has been in place for over a decade.