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  • 9 July 2014, 22:55

Hamas Attempts Strike On Israeli 'Nuclear Site'

Hamas militants have fired rockets towards the Dimona nuclear reactor facility, an Israeli military spokesman has claimed.

The official said three rockets were detected and the "Iron Dome" defensive missile system was activated.

An official said: "A few minutes ago, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired three rockets at Dimona. Two fell in open areas, Iron Dome intercepted the other."

The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said it "launched three M75 rockets at Dimona". The rockets have a range of about 50 miles.

Israeli troops also killed two Gaza militants in a seafront gunfight on Wednesday, close to the site of a failed attack on a military base a day earlier, according to reports.

"Two armed terrorists came out of the sea more or less in the same area where the incident took place 24 hours ago," Israeli public radio said.

"Army lookouts spotted them and there was a gunfight which ended with both terrorists killed."

In response to the escalating conflict, sources said the United Nations Security Council would convene in New York on Thursday at 10am local time.

It follows a call by Arab nations for an emergency meeting and immediate action to end what they say is Israel's "outrageous onslaught" against Palestinians.                

The nuclear reactor strike attempt comes after the Israeli military has said it has shot down rockets fired by Palestinian militants at other areas, as Israel's major air offensive over the Gaza Strip approaches its third day.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said at least eight rockets sent from Gaza were intercepted over Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Ashkelon on Wednesday.

Israel said a rocket hit the city of Zichron Yaakov on Wednesday afternoon, which is some 120km (75 miles) from Gaza, representing the longest-range rocket strike by Hamas on the state to date.

The IDF claims at least 48 missiles, sent by Hamas, which controls Gaza, "struck Israel" since midnight.

Other locations targeted included Beersheva and Sderot in the south, Rishon Lezion, and Hadera in the north - 60 miles from Gaza.

In total, more than 300 rockets have been fired at Israel since the military launched Operation Protective Edge on Monday night.

To date no fatalities have been reported in Israel.

The fatalities come after at least 49 people, including children, have been killed in the biggest Israeli assault on Gaza in nearly two years.

Officials in Gaza say that more than 300 people have also been injured since Monday, but that number is likely to climb as Israel attempts to "dismantles" Hamas.

The Israeli military said a total of 550 Hamas targets have been hit since the operation began, with 130 targets hit on Wednesday.

They included 60 suspected rocket launch sites on the Gaza Strip from Beit Hanoun in the north, to Rafah near the Egyptian border.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has quoted him as saying he plans to "intensify the attacks on Hamas and the terrorist organisations in Gaza" even further.

The Israeli cabinet has warned it may also send in ground troops and has authorised the call-up of as many as 40,000 reservists.

At a crisis meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing atrocities in Gaza.

Mr Abbas said: "It's genocide - the killing of entire families is genocide by Israel against our Palestinian people."

The US State Department said it has called for all sides to deescalate Gaza tension but reiterated Israel's right of self-defence.

The exchange of fire marks the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012.

Tensions increased last month after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank.

Israel blamed Hamas and launched a crackdown on the group's members and arrested hundreds of people.

The situation deteriorated further last week when a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem was abducted and burned to death in what was viewed as a revenge attack.

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