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Israel launches dozens of Gaza strikes

March 16, 2019 00:00:00

GAZA CITY, Mar 15 (AFP): Israel said Friday its aircraft had struck dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rockets from the Palestinian enclave, including rare fire toward its economic capital Tel Aviv.

The escalation followed weeks of growing tensions and came at an especially sensitive time ahead of Israel's April 09 elections.

As the polls approach, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely believed to want to avoid a fourth war in the Gaza Strip since 2008 -- but the exchange of fire again showed the risks.

Quiet returned to Gaza and Israel on Friday morning.

UN and Egyptian officials were in contact with both sides "to prevent the situation from spinning out of control," a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

Organisers of weekly Friday protests along the Gaza border fence, which have been accompanied by violence, announced they would be cancelled-the first such move since they began nearly a year ago.

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