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Israeli air force strikes Gaza after two rocket attacks

Israeli warplanes hit three targets in Gaza following earlier rocket attacks launched at Israel, officials have said.

The Israeli Defence Force say that the Iron Dome defence system intercepted one rocket and another exploded in an open area in the city of Sderot.

Reuters say the overnight air strikes targeted two training camps belonging to the Islamist group Hamas, causing no injuries.

Haaretz report that a group calling itself the Omar Brigades, which identifies with the so-called Islamic State, took responsibility for the rocket fire, but the IDF said in a statement that Hamas must carry "the responsibility" for the attack.


One dead after Israeli navy fire on Gaza Strip boats

The Israeli navy opened fire on boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip killing a Palestinian fisherman, Gaza hospital officials said.

Citing security concerns, Israel keeps a naval blockade on Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, and has designated a six nautical-mile fishing zone off the enclave's coast.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said four vessels had strayed from the fishing zone and that the Israeli army opened fire after the boats did not heed calls to halt.

Egyptian court lists Hamas as terror group

An Egyptian court listed the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation, Egyptian state television said.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood which the authorities have also declared a terrorist group and have repressed systematically since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Mursi, from the presidency in 2013.

An Egyptian court decision to list Hamas as a terrorist organization is "shocking and dangerous," the Islamist group said in a statement.

"The Egyptian court's decision to list the Hamas movement as a terror organization is shocking and is dangerous, and it targets the Palestinian people and its factions of resistance," the statement said.

"It will have no influence on the Hamas movement, which enjoys the respect of all the nation and the leaders of the nation."


Head of UN inquiry into war crimes in Gaza conflict resigns

The head of a United Nations inquiry into the conflict in Gaza has announced his resignation after Israel accused him of bias.

UK-based academic William Schabas was appointed by the head of the UN Human Rights Council to lead an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during Israel's military operation in Gaza last year.

William Schabas was appointed to lead an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during Israel's military operation in Gaza last year Credit: Reuters

Israel had criticised his appointment, citing his record as a critic of the state and its leadership, and the Council had sought legal advice after it emerged he was paid $1,300 (£865) to provide a legal opinion for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 2012.

Reuters news agency reports that Schabas sent a letter to the commission stating he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the findings of the report, which is due to be released in March.

He also defended his work for the PLO.

My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public... This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.

I believe that it is difficult for the work to continue while a procedure is underway to consider hether the chair of the commission should be removed.

– William Schabas

Palestinian 'Santa Claus' tear-gassed by Israeli troops

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus was tear-gassed by Israeli troops and had to be carried to safety.

A protester dressed as Santa Claus has to be carried away by medics Credit: Reuters

The man was among hoards of people demonstrating against the Israeli settlements, demanding free movement for Palestinians during Christmas.

The protest, near a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, included many more wearing Santa-style hats and bearing banners reading: "We want Christmas without occupation".

The protesters were demanding free movement for Palestinians over Christmas Credit: Reuters

Israel launches airstrike against Hamas in Gaza

Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas militant base in the Gaza Strip for the first time since the end of a war in the territory, in response to a rocket that militants launched earlier in the day, the army said.

The bombs struck in the Khan Younis area in the southern Gaza Strip. Local hospital officials said there were no casualties.

The militant rocket fired earlier landed in a field in southern Israel and no one was injured.

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