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Israeli airstrikes struck a series of targets in Gaza Wednesday morning, ending an ever-tentative ceasefire that had been in place since last November’s heavy cross-border clashes.
Wednesday’s airstrikes were, according to the Israeli military, “accurate hits” on “terror sites.” The attacks came in response to rocket fire aimed toward Israel and amid heightened Palestinian rage. Palestinian officials have blamed Israel for the death of Palestinian prisoner and cancer sufferer Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was allegedly negligently treated. The 64-year-old’s death has sparked hunger strikes and riots among Palestinian prisoners in Israel and may have catalyzed an intensification of cross-border hostilities. The AP noted:
Palestinian prisoners rioted following news of a fellow inmate’s death of cancer, and Israeli prison guards fired tear gas to quell the disturbances, an Israeli official said.
… As news of Abu Hamdiyeh’s death spread, Palestinian prisoners in several jails began banging on their cell doors and hurling objects. Later, protests spread to Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.
… After decades of conflict with Israel, the issue of prisoners is emotionally charged in Palestinian society. Inmates are highly esteemed regardless of the reasons for their incarceration, which range from mass murder to throwing rocks.
The Israel Defense Forces’ social media public relations machine is — as was the case during Operation Pillar of Defense — already engaged over Wednesday’s strikes:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.