Israeli aircraft struck militant outposts in Gaza and Palestinians fired rockets back on August 19 following deadly gun attacks along the desert border with Egypt that have raised tensions between Israel and the new leadership in Cairo.
Egypt formally protested and demanded Israel investigate the deaths of three of its security men, who, it said, were killed when Israeli forces hunted for the gunmen behind August 18’s attacks. In all, more than 20 people have been killed.
In anger at Israel's punishing raids in which at least 15 have been killed since August 18, Hamas gunmen in Gaza said they were calling off a de-facto truce in force with Israel since 2009, paving the way for a further violent escalation.
Israel had swiftly pinned the blame for August 18’s attack on a Palestinian group independent of Islamist Hamas and killed the faction's leadership in an air strike on the same day, while launching more than a dozen more raids the following day.
Among those killed in Israel's strikes were 11 militants and four civilians, including a physician and children aged 2,5 and 13, said Hamas medical sources. Gaza militants responded by firing at least 24 rockets at Israel, spreading panic, and injuring two in the city of Ashdod.
"We have a policy of exacting a very heavy price of anyone who attacks us and this policy is being implemented," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on August 19 while visiting wounded compatriots in hospital.