Israel: new air strikes on Gaza in response to Eilat attacks.
Israel new air strikes came hours after gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives killed at least 7 people in southern Israel.
Israel launches new air strikes on Gaza today after accusing militants in the Palestinian territory for deadly attacks near Eilat on Thursday before noon.
According to the militants, 5 Palestinians were killed in today strikes.
Earlier today, at least 7 people died when squads of gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives came to southern Israel from Egypt and attacked buses, cars and an army patrol, officials said.
The Israel’s government immediately reacted to Gaza attacks, spokesman Mark Regev saying:
“This is specific information.”
“This is not an assessment. This is not an estimate. This is very, very precise information that they came out of Gaza. We have no doubt.”
But he did not provide further details.
A spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, Taher Nunu denied that the militants were involved:
“Gaza has nothing to do with these attacks in Eilat.”
The attacks in Israel began around midday local time and lasted for about 3 hours.
Attackers targeted a packed bus driving along a road about 10 miles north of the Red Sea resort, close to the border crossing into Sinai. Within one hour, the attackers opened fire on another bus and two civilian vehicles on the same road, and an army vehicle rushing to the area drove over an explosive device, the military said in a statement.
Local TV footage showed a bus pulled off the road with its door and windows shattered, and soldiers were patrolling the area on foot. Inside the bus, seats were stained with blood, and luggage littered the aisle.
“We heard a shot and saw a window explode. I didn’t really understand what was happening at first. After another shot there was chaos in the bus and everyone jumped on everyone else,” passenger Idan Kaner told Channel 2 TV.
He also said the attack lasted 3 or 4 minutes until the bus was able to drive away.
Entrances and exits to Eilat were sealed, as roadblocks were thrown up in the area.
A “large number” of attackers were working in multiple squads, the military said, but gave no specifics.
Israeli military spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich said:
“We are talking about a terror squad that infiltrated into Israel.”
“This is a combined terrorist attack against Israelis.”
“Israeli security forces tracked down some of the assailants and killed 7 in a gun battle,” she added.
Israel said the assailants came from the Gaza Strip and made their way through Sinai, which borders both Israel and Gaza.
“The incident underscores the weak Egyptian hold on Sinai and the broadening of the activities of terrorists,” the Israeli Defence minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement.
“The real source of the terror is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force and determination.”
Security in Sinai area has been deteriorated since February, when Hosni Mubarak was toppled.
The new attack comes just a week after the Egyptian army said it was about to launch an operation in Sinai to target what it described as “al-Qaeda elements” on the Egyptian side of the border, where they had attacked a gas pipeline.
A senior security official from Egypt denied that the assailants crossed into Israel from Sinai or that the buses were fired at from inside Egyptian territory.
“The border is heavily guarded,” said a Sinai-based official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
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