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Israeli commandos raid rocket launching site in northern Gaza

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

JERUSALEM, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Navy commandos raided a facility in the northern Gaza Strip, from which the Islamist movement Hamas fired long-range rockets at Israeli cities, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Sunday.

During the raid, the commandos were shot at by Hamas gunmen and four commandos were injured lightly, an IDF spokesman confirmed to Xinhua.

"The facility was hit and damaged," he said, adding that all the commandos had returned to Israel.

The spokesman, who declined to be named, denied that the raid indicated the start of a broad military ground offensive, saying that it was only a "special operation."

Since the IDF launched its "Operation Protective Edge" against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip last Tuesday, many long-range rockets have been fired at Jerusalem and Israel's largest coastal city of Tel Aviv, both more than 70 km away from Gaza. Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile systems, causing no injuries.

In a statement issued early Sunday, the IDF said it would advise residents in northern Gaza to leave their homes in face of further Israeli military operation against the costal enclave.

The Israel Air Force will disperse leaflets Sunday above locations in the northern Gaza Strip, the statement said, adding that these leaflets ask the residents of Beit Lahiya to stay away from Hamas' operatives and activity sites that pose a grave risk to their safety.

The contents of the leaflet was also conveyed by recorded voice-messages and text-messages.

Since the beginning of the Israeli military operation, more than 800 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel, with 635 rockets hitting southern, central and northern Israel, according to figures released by the IDF.

Some 147 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome and IDF forces struck some 1,320 targets across the Gaza Strip.

The conflict, which has so far left more than 156 Palestinians dead and over 1,000 others wounded, showed no signs of de-escalation.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140713/israeli-commandos-raid-rocket-launching-site-northern-gaza