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Israeli warplanes launch air strikes on Gaza

Israeli warplanes struck targets in the Gaza Strip today in response to rocket fire towards southern Israel.

They were the first air strikes launched by Israel since an informal ceasefire ended eight days of cross-border fighting between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza.

An Israeli military statement said its planes targeted "two extensive terror sites" with "accurate hits".

Palestinian officials said no one was hurt in the air strikes and no damage was reported in northern Gaza.

The air raids followed the third successful rocket attack on Israel since the November ceasefire.

The military reported that Gaza militants yesterday fired at least one rocket toward southern Israel. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.

The attack was the first since rockets were fired during President Barack Obama's visit to Israel two weeks ago.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire. The Israeli military says it holds Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers responsible for any attack against the Jewish state.

Turkish PM accepts Israeli apology over flotilla deaths

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accepted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology over the Gaza flotilla deaths on behalf of Turkey, a US official has said.

Members of Hamas' security forces stand guard at Gaza Seaport after the flotilla raid.
Members of Hamas' security forces stand guard at Gaza Seaport after the flotilla raid. Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Mr Erdogan's office said the Turkish Prime Minister underlined the importance of strong cooperation and friendship between the two nations during his telephone conversation with Mr Netanyahu earlier today.

"Erdogan told Benjamin Netanyahu that he valued centuries-long strong friendship and cooperation between the Turkish and Jewish nations," the statement from his office said.

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Factfile: 2010 Gaza flotilla raid

In May 2010, human rights activists boarded six ships in an attempt to breach Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to distribute aid.

  • The flotilla of ships was boarded around 80 miles from Israel's coast
  • Israeli commandos boarded Turkish ship MV Mavi Mara and met with resistance
  • Nine Turkish activists died during the raid
  • The incident severely harmed ties between the once-close allies
  • Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and scaled back diplomatic ties

Obama applauds call between Israeli & Turkish leaders

President Barack Obama has welcomed the telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in which Mr Netanyahu apologised for errors that might have led to the Gaza flotilla deaths in 2010.

President Barack Obama welcomed the telephone conversation between the leaders.
President Barack Obama welcomed the telephone conversation between the leaders. Credit: AA/ABACA/Press Association Images

President Obama said: "The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security.

"I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities", he added.

Israeli PM apologises to Turkey over Gaza flotilla deaths

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured with US President Barack Obama earlier this week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured with US President Barack Obama earlier this week. Credit: AA/ABACA/Press Association Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologised to Turkey for errors that might have led to the deaths of nine Turkish activists during a 2010 raid on a flotilla off the Gaza Strip, his office said.

Mr Netanyahu spoke with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day in a telephone call that was engineered by President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel, Reuters reported.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed an apology to the Turkish people for any error that may have led to the loss of life, and agreed to complete the agreement for compensation", his office said in a statement.

Hamas leader visits Gaza Strip for the first time

This is the first visit to Gaza by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
This is the first visit to Gaza by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal Credit: Reuters

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has arrived in the Gaza Strip, in what is his first visit to the occupied Palestinian Territories in 45 years.

After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Meshaal knelt on the ground in prayer before being greeted by dozens of officials from an array of Palestinian factions.

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Palestinians thank China for support

The envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has praised the Chinese leadership for their support during the recent conflict in the Gaza strip. China has also developed strong trade links with Israel but has traditionally played a very low profile in diplomatic attempts to end the conflict.

The Chinese position is supporting the truce in Gaza, supporting, stopping any kind of aggression from the Israeli's against the Palestinian people, and they support our demands in the United Nations, and there was a special assistance of aid from the Chinese to donate one million dollars for our people in Palestine, especially in Gaza.

– Bassam Al-Salhi, Secretary General of the Palestinian People's Party
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