JERUSALEM, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military launched massive airstrikes in the Gaza Strip overnight Monday, hitting dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in response to increased rocket firing from the coastal enclave in recent weeks.
Among the 34 targets were a Hamas complex in Rafah that hosted a weapon storage facility and residents, Israel's Army Radio said. The Palestinians reported four people wounded and one missing in an attack near Khan Yunis that targeted a site belonging to a Hamas' military wing.
A helicopter gunship attack near Beit Lahia also destroyed several houses, Israel's Ynet news site quoted Palestinian sources as saying.
Earlier in Monday evening, a rocket fired from Gaza fell in an open area in western Negev. Also, four rockets were launched after the airstrikes, while another three were fired early Tuesday morning into Israeli communities. No injuries were reported, Israeli media said.
Hours prior to the airstrikes, security forces and civilian volunteers discovered the bodies of three Israeli teens who were abducted by militants in the West Bank on June 12, bringing to an end a massive manhunt which saw thousands of troops combing the West Bank and the arrests of over 400 Palestinian suspects with most of whom Hamas members.
The bodies of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah, aged from 16 to 19, were found in the Judean Hills in the southern West Bank, north of Hebron, between the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar and Halhul, an area which was controlled by the Palestinian Authority, not far from where they were last seen. Israeli media said they were shot dead soon after being taken into a vehicle.
The discovery of the bodies prompted furious reactions from Israeli politicians across the spectrum.
"Our boys were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of an emergency meeting of his security cabinet which convened Monday night to weigh courses of action against Hamas.
"Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay," Netanyahu said.
However, it was not clear whether the kidnappers acted on their own or were instructed by Hamas' leadership in Gaza. An 18-rocket barrage fired from the coastal territory at southern Israel on Sunday night and Monday morning was attributed to the group, marking its first since a cease-fire reached in November 2012.
A senior Israeli security source said that Monday's air campaign aimed to curtail the incessant rocket fire. "If we see Hamas heading toward an escalation, we'll act accordingly," the source was quoted as saying, adding the plans for large-scale military action were in the making, though Israel was seeking to avoid an escalation, the source said.
Israeli PM vows crackdown on Hamas following discovery of abducted teens' bodies
JERUSALEM, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on Monday evening the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens whose bodies were found earlier this evening in the West Bank.
"Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay," Netanyahu said in a statement to the press at the beginning of an urgent meeting of his diplomatic-security cabinet that was convened to discuss the recent developments and the possible courses of action. Full story
Abbas chairs emergency meeting after 3 missing Israelis found dead
RAMALLH, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called for an emergency meeting of his leadership to debate the situation after three Israelis, who disappeared in southern West Bank in June 12, were found dead, officials said.
Nabil Abu Rdineh, said in a statement published by the Palestinian state-run Wafa news agency that the emergency meeting "will debate the current political developments and the consequences of the latest incidents." Full story