Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City August 9.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel pounded targets in Gaza as Hamas rocket fire continued across the border Saturday, the second day of fighting since Egyptian-led attempts to prolong a three-day cease-fire collapsed in Cairo.
The IAF struck a motorcycle carrying two militants from a Palestinian faction in central Gaza, the IDF Spokesperson's Office said, confirming a direct hit.
The army has conducted over 30 airstrikes since midnight, including on launching pads, command and control centers and other military sites. Since early Saturday, Palestinian terrorists have launched more than a dozen rockets towards southern Israel.
Five Palestinians were killed in the renewed air raids in Gaza and several others wounded, Palestinian sources reported, adding that three bodies were uncovered from underneath the rubble of a mosque that was targeted by the IAF.
Palestinians media outlets reported that a Khan Younis home as well as a farm were demolished overnight; two other homes in Rafah were bombed. Palestinian news agency Ma'an added that since the early hours of the morning, the Israeli air force struck an agricultural field near Gaza City, two mosques in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, and another in the Zeitoun neighborhood.
Other structures were also hit overnight, the report stated.
Meanwhile, the Israel Police decided not to allow a left-wing protest slated for Saturday evening to take place at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, due to security concerns amid the renewed rocket attacks in southern Israel.
In a TV interview with CNN's New Day
, on Saturday, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner blasted Hamas for using Gaza as a launching pad for attacks and said Israel would retaliate to Hamas as long as the group planned attacks against Israel.
He said that the 32 tunnels unearthed throughout the operation were designed to enable easy access into Israel to commit multiple attack against civilians, adding, "That is no longer a threat."
The IDF spokesman said the terror tunnels – or as he termed it, "arteries with many veins," – was the reason the army mobilized deep within the Gaza periphery. "We needed to be on the ground," he explained, to tackle the threat of militant groups having multiple access points.
Asked about the much buzzed-about IDF tweet, 'Every rocket fired by Hamas is meant to kill Israeli civilians. Every rocket is a war crime' he said the army was carrying out actions with "explicit care" so as to limit the impact on the heavily-populated enclave, home to 1.8 million residents.
"We did not want to go into Gaza," Lerner, who helms the IDF Spokesperson's Office, said. "We had no choice. What would the United States do and expect its military to do if it was targeted by Islamic terrorist organizations."
He concluded that Operation Protective Edge, now its 33rd day of fighting, was a huge challenge for the IDF. The army had no intention to harm civilians, he said, adding that everything went through a legal process and was thought through.