Israeli air raids strike Hamas after Gaza rocket fired

PA halts payments to hundreds of Gazans

PA halts payments to hundreds of Gazans

The Israel Defense Forces said early Monday that it had struck "a number" of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after rocket alert sirens sounded across the southern coastal region of Ashkelon overnight Sunday when a rocket launched from the coastal enclave was intercepted by Israel's missile defense system, the Iron Dome.

"Since we took over the Rafah crossing, Hamas has been obstructing the work of our crew there", the statement said.

"In response, (Israeli) attack helicopters targeted two Hamas military posts in the Gaza Strip".

"This decision comes in the light of recent developments and brutal practices of the de facto gangs" in the Gaza Strip, said the PA's civil affairs authority in a statement.

Fatah blamed Hamas for the incident, but Hamas later arrested five men it said were former PA employees whose salaries were recently suspended.

Rafah - the only way for Gazans to leave the Palestinian enclave that bypasses Israel - was closed Monday due to the Orthodox Christmas holiday but had been expected to reopen both directions Tuesday. However, it was not clear whether it would reopen as scheduled on Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, Hamas' Interior Ministry Spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said that the resistance movement "will protect the interests of our people".

Egypt has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation pact that provides for Hamas to cede control of Gaza to Abbas, but a dispute over power-sharing has hindered implementation.

The PA is based in the city of Ramallah and only governs parts of the Israeli occupied West Bank, which is separated from the Gaza Strip by internationally recognised Israeli territory. The two rival Palestinian factions finally agreed on a unity government in April 2014, but it fell apart months later. Cairo has allowed the crossing to be open regularly since August 2018, providing a lifeline to desperate Gazans.

In a separate development on Monday, the Israeli military said it had struck a Hamas militant camp in northern Gaza after a rocket was sacked towards southern Israel. Restrictions intensified in June 2007 when Tel Aviv imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza, citing security concerns.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

Over the past few years, Israeli troops have also carried out over a hundred assaults on Palestinian boats, arresting dozens of fishermen and confiscating several boats.

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