Israeli planes strike Gaza after rocket fire

Israeli warplanes launched two air strikes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt on Wednesday as delegates from three Palestinian factions were crossing at a nearby terminal, witnesses said.

They said the two air strikes left large craters and caused damage to surrounding homes near the border, where smugglers operate a massive underground network of tunnels to supply goods to the besieged territory.

There were no immediate reports of anyone killed or wounded.

An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that two air strikes had been carried out in the area.

Palestinian militants had earlier fired two homemade rockets into southern Israel without causing any casualties, according to the military.

Delegations from the Islamic Jihad group and two factions from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) headed by Western-backed president Mahmoud Abbas were crossing into Egypt at the time of the Israeli raid.

The delegations were to attend talks in Cairo aimed at reconciling the feuding factions. Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas have been bitterly divided since the Islamist movement seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

Israel launched hundreds of air strikes on the smuggling tunnels during its war on Gaza last month that left more than 1 300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead before coming to a halt on January 18.—AFP

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