[Friday, March 14, 2014] Israeli military sources have reported that the Air Force fired missiles into 29 sites in different parts of the Gaza Strip, alleging that the escalation comes in retaliation for shells fired into Israel from Gaza. The sources said that the missiles struck what was described as rocket launching pads, monitoring sites, training grounds, and resistance structures belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, and the al-Quds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad.

An Israeli military official said the bombardment “managed to cause significant destruction to sensitive facilities” used by resistance groups in Gaza, mainly armed groups that belong to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

The official stated that Israel “will continue to retaliate”, and to hold Hamas fully responsible for the latest round of military escalation.

Israel said that Palestinian fighters also fired shells into the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council of settlements, and that the shells landed and detonated in open areas, causing no injuries or damage.

The attacks came hours after the Islamic Jihad said an understanding for a truce agreement was reached under Egyptian mediation.

On Thursday, at noon, at least three Palestinians were injured when the army bombarded areas in Rafah, southern Gaza, including siege-busting border tunnels.

Furthermore, Israeli Walla News Agency quoted an Israeli security official alleging that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad “raised the white flag” under ongoing Israeli strikes, and that “Israel is interested in calm, but will respond to any escalation.”

The al-Quds Brigades said that its fighters engaged with Israeli soldiers invading an area east of Rafah, firing shells at them.

In a statement, Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, held Israel responsible for the escalation, saying that Israel’s threats and violence will not deter the resistance that will continue to defend its people.

The latest round of escalation started Wednesday morning [March 12, 2014] when Israel assassinated three fighters of the Islamic Jihad, in Rafah.

The slain fighters have been identified as Ismael Abu Jouda, 23, Shaher Abu Shanab, 24, and Abdul-Shafy Moammar, 33.

Earlier on Tuesday [March 11, 2014], Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man from Atteel village, northwest of Tulkarem in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Medical sources said that Fida’ Mohyeeddeen Majadla, 23, was killed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on his car at the al-Kafriyyat roadblock, south of Tulkarem.

On Monday evening [March 10, 2014] resident Saje Darwish, 18, was shot and killed by army fire as he was heading to the family barn, close to the Givat Asaf illegal Israeli settlement, built on lands belonging to residents of Beiteen village, north of Ramallah.

Also on Monday, Israeli forces, stationed at the Allenby Border Terminal with Jordan, shot and killed a Palestinian judge who works in Jordan.

The slain Palestinian has been identified as Raed Ala’ Ed-Deen Z’eitar, 38, from the northern West Bank city of Nablus. He was also a Jordanian citizen.

The escalation, accompanied by ongoing invasions and arrests targeting dozens of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and occupied East Jerusalem, their homes and lands, created a fertile ground for retaliation which could lead to a large-scale war against Gaza, and possibly escalating clashes in the West Bank.