December 19, 2014
Israeli commandos clash with Hamas, Gaza death toll rises to 149
Israeli navy commandos clashed with Hamas gunmen during a raid on the coast of the Gaza Strip today, the first such gunfight of a six-day Israeli offensive on the territory aimed at stopping Palestinian rocket fire.
The Israeli force was attacking a site in northern Gaza used to launch long-range rockets when it came under fire, a military statement said. The commandos returned fire and managed to hit the launch site, the statement said, adding that four soldiers were lightly wounded in the clash.
Hamas said its fighters had fired at the Israeli force offshore, preventing them from landing.
Israel says a ground invasion of Gaza remains an option, and it has already mobilized about 20,000 reservists to do so, but most attacks have so far been from the air, hitting some 1,200 targets in the territory.
The Islamist group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, striking deeper in the country than ever before.
Still sirens went off throughout the night in Israel, sending residents running for safe rooms and bomb shelters.
Israeli aircraft carried out a series of attacks in Gaza, including against a police headquarters and a security compound, Palestinian officials said.
A woman and a three-year-old girl were killed in the air strikes, officials said, bringing the six-day Palestinian death toll to 149, many of them civilians.