Gaza rockets, Israeli strikes follow deadly West Bank raid


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Palestinian militants in Gaza launched rockets at southern Israel and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the coastal enclave early Thursday after a gunbattle in the occupied West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militants fired six rockets and two anti-aircraft missiles from the Gaza Strip toward the country’s south early Thursday. Air defenses intercepted five of the rockets and one landed in an open field, according to the military. The missiles did not hit their targets. The attacks were not immediately claimed by Palestinian militant groups.

Israeli aircraft then struck several targets in northern and central Gaza, including a weapons manufacturing site and a military compound belonging to the Hamas militant group that rules the enclave. There were no reports of injuries in Israel or Gaza from the rocket attacks or strikes.

In the first weeks of Israel's new government, security forces have stepped up arrest raids of wanted militants in the West Bank. Israel says the raids — begun in the wake of a series of deadly Palestinian attacks last spring — are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future assaults.

But the operations have shown few signs of slowing the violence and Wednesday’s resulted in one of the bloodiest battles in nearly a year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, raising the likelihood of further bloodshed.

“We have a clear policy: to strike terror powerfully and to deepen our roots in our land,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of his Cabinet. “We will settle accounts with whoever harms Israeli citizens.”

The Israeli military said it entered Nablus, the West Bank’s commercial center and a city known as a militant stronghold, to arrest three militants suspected in previous shooting attacks. The main suspect was wanted in the killing of an Israeli soldier last fall.

Israeli police stepped up security in sensitive areas on Thursday, while Hamas said its patience was “running out.” Islamic Jihad, another militant group, vowed to retaliate.

On Thursday, police said security guards at the entrance to a West Bank settlement shot and lightly wounded a woman who police said attempted to stab the guards.

In response to Wednesday's raid, a strike was called across the West Bank, and schools, universities and shops all shut down in protest. Schools and universities in Gaza and most shops in east Jerusalem were also closed.