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Israel launches airstrikes in Gaza, destroys Hamas TV station

By
Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Monday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Monday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The Israeli military and Palestinian militants exchanged rocket fire Monday after a botched undercover mission over the weekend killed several people in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Defense Forces said it targeted and destroyed the building from which Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV operated in Gaza City. Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that though the F-16 planes shot at least three missiles at the building and caused damaged to nearby homes, there were no injuries.

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The news agency said Israeli airstrikes also targeted homes in Rafah and Khan Younis.

The Jerusalem Post said Hamas used the al-Aqsa building for military activity and sending messages to terror groups in the West Bank.

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The IDF said it built up its troops and defenses along the border with Gaza after Palestinians launched at least 300 projectiles over the fence into Israeli territory.

The Gaza Health Ministry said three people died and two others sustained injuries in Monday's air raids. The IDF said a 19-year-old soldier sustained critical injuries after an anti-tank missile hit a bus transporting soldiers.

Monday's violence came one day after Israeli officers used a civilian vehicle to sneak into Gaza for an intelligence-gathering mission. The forces assassinated one of Hamas' commanders, fatally shooting him before fleeing. Hamas fighters caught up with the vehicle and killed one of the undercover officers.

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"During an [Israeli] special forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved," the Israeli army said in a statement. "An IDF officer was killed and an additional officer was moderately injured."

Israeli forces responded with an airstrike.

Hamas called it a "cowardly Israeli attack."

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Gaza responded with rocket attacks against Israel, with a spokesman characterizing Israel's actions as "dangerous Zionist aggression."

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said this was an intelligence-gathering mission.

"The operation was deep inside the Gaza Strip and was the very end of operations that are carried out on a regular basis and whose purpose is to enable the superiority and capabilities of Israel," Manelis said.

He said the forces were "trapped in a highly complex situation" but were able to "hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory."

Other details from the operation remain censored.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to Paris, where he and other world leaders marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Netanyahu said he was doing everything possible to bring calm to Gaza and prevent a larger war.

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