Israel strikes Gaza
Israeli warplanes struck four targets in Gaza last Thursday in response to a rocket that landed near Ashkelon. The Israel Defence Forces said the targets included several smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza, as well as a weapons manufacturing facility. The Thursday-night raid followed the firing of a Katyusha rocket at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon that caused no casualties. Palestinians said one person was killed and two wounded in the Israeli strikes. The rocket attack near Ashkelon followed the launching of at least 10 mortar shells at southern Israel, also on Thursday. The earlier attack also caused no damage or injuries. Six shells landed in the northwestern Negev, three near the Kerem Shalom crossing and one landed in Gaza. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility, reportedly saying it was in revenge for the killing of two of its members Jan. 5 as they prepared to fire rockets from Gaza.
Missile defence passes tests
An Israeli defence system designed to shoot down rockets and mortars shot at Israel from Gaza was successful in field trials. The Iron Dome system intercepted several rockets during tests last week, the Israel Defence Forces said Jan. 6. Several missiles resembling Qassam and Katyusha rockets were shot simultaneously. The system, designed by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, is expected to be deployed near the Gaza border later this year.
Israel to compensate UN
Israel reportedly has agreed to pay $10 million (US) in compensation for damaging United Nations buildings in Gaza. Israel hit several UN properties, including schools, storehouses and vehicles, during its military offensive in Gaza last winter. Israel says the properties weren’t targeted, but that Hamas terrorists were targeting Israel from inside or near the buildings. Israel says the compensation is for collateral damage. It’s the first compensation Israel will pay for damage caused in Gaza during the offensive, the BBC reported. The compensation deal comes after several months of talks. Israel still must ink a final agreement, Bloomberg reported, but Defence Minister Ehud Barak reportedly told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the decision.
Military officials cancel Britain trip
A delegation of Israeli military officers cancelled a visit to Britain two weeks ago out of fear they would be arrested on war crimes charges. The cancellation comes a month after Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a visit to Britain after learning a London court had approved a warrant for her arrest on war crimes charges. The delegation of senior Israel Defence Forces officers had been invited by the British army. Their visit was cancelled after British authorities said they couldn’t assure Israeli Foreign Ministry officials that the delegation wouldn’t be arrested. The warrants seek to charge Israeli officials with war crimes in connection with Israel’s war in Gaza last winter. In December, Hamas said that it was working with lawyers in Britain and other European countries to pursue war crimes cases against Israel. Britain has assured Israel it will try to implement measures to solve the issue.
Iraq to sue Israel
Iraq is planning to sue Israel for bombing its nuclear reactor at Osirak nearly three decades ago. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has instructed his foreign ministry to find out from the United Nations whether it can receive compensation from Israel. Israel’s air force bombed the reactor, which had not yet gone online, in 1981. A UN resolution passed at the time condemned Israel’s attack and determined Iraq had a right to demand compensation, the Jerusalem Post reported. Baghdad has demanded that the United Nations set up a committee to assess the damage caused by Israel’s attack so it can calculate appropriate compensation.