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Israeli airstrikes kill 16 in Gaza, Palestinian officials say

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
  • NEW: Sixteen Palestinians killed Sunday, Ministry of Health says
  • NEW: Some 117 rockets were fired at Israel on Sunday, Israel says
  • Israel targets Hamas financial leader, military says
  • Egypt destroys five tunnels under border with Gaza

(CNN) -- The recently renewed violence in the Mideast claimed more lives Sunday as Israeli strikes killed at least 16 people in Gaza and a Hamas attack on a border crossing wounded four Israeli civilians.

The 16 Palestinian victims included a mother and her three children in their home, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra.

One of the targets was Mohamed Al-Oul, who supervised Hamas' financial transactions, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF said a "hit was confirmed."

The four Israelis were hit at the border crossing near the town of Erez. THe IDF tweeted that several rockets and mortars struck the checkpoint. One civilian was moderately wounded and three were injured, the IDF said, without elaborating on their conditions.

The civilians had come to the crossing to aid people needing humanitarian assistance, Israel's Ministry of Defense said in a written statement. The crossing remains closed.

Hamas said it fired 23 mortar shells at the site. At least 117 rockets were fired at Israel on Sunday, the IDF said via its Twitter account.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated before his weekly Cabinet meeting that airstrikes will continue and that Israel targets militants.

Palestinians in Gaza celebrate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Tuesday, August 26. After more than seven weeks of heavy fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire that puts off dealing with core long-term issues. Palestinians in Gaza celebrate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Tuesday, August 26. After more than seven weeks of heavy fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire that puts off dealing with core long-term issues.
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"The Hamas is paying and will pay a heavy price for the crimes it is carrying out. I call on the citizens of Gaza to leave every place that the Hamas is carrying out terror activity. Every place like this is a target for us. ... This is true on all fronts and for all countries," he said.

He compared Hamas to ISIS, the militant group that now calls itself the Islamic State.

"Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. They simply work in the same way. They are branches of the same poisonous tree," Netanyahu said.

Israel, the European Union and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Al-Qidra told CNN that 92 people in Gaza have been killed since a ceasefire ended five days ago and more than 2,100 have died in this weekslong conflict.

There were other effects of the violence, which began in early July. The United Nations, which runs many schools in Gaza, said 500,000 children were unable to begin classes on Sunday. A spokesman for the Palestinian ministry of education said more than 100 government-run schools are closed while others are being used as shelters.

Fire from Syria

Also Sunday, the Israeli military said rockets from Syria hit various locations through the Golan Heights.

It was unclear who was responsible for the rockets from Syria or whether they had anything to do with Israel's ongoing fight with Hamas that has raged for weeks. The Golan Heights is under Israeli government control but is considered to be occupied territory by the international community.

The announcement came hours after a rocket from Lebanon struck an open area in northern Israel in a separate attack. No injuries were immediately reported in either of those attacks.

Last month, a rocket was fired into northern Israel from southern Lebanon, and the Israeli military responded with an artillery strike. At the time, Israel said it held the Lebanese government responsible for the attack.

Israel has waged an offensive in Gaza against the militant Palestinian group Hamas and the stream of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Hopes for a ceasefire appear dim despite calls from world leaders for the two sides to stop the violence.

During the offensive, Israel destroyed more than 30 concrete-lined tunnels that led from Gaza into Israel.

Sources, including one who witnessed an explosion, told CNN that the Egyptian army Sunday blew up five tunnels on the border with Gaza.

Hamas request

Hamas is urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to go before the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli leaders for war crimes.

The Palestinians are not currently under the jurisdiction of the ICC, but would be if they sign the court's Rome Statute, the treaty that established the court.

Back in May, a group of 17 human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, signed a letter to Abbas encouraging him to join the ICC.

The United States and Israel and some other nations have pressured Abbas not to take this step, arguing that it would harm peace talks.

Hamas' announcement comes a day after one of the group's leaders admitted that its militants were responsible for the abduction of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June.

Hamas Political Bureau member Saleh Aruri added that the kidnappers did not tell their leaders about the action. The kidnappings were not approved by Hamas leadership or its military wing, he said, stressing that this acknowledgment does not equate to a claim of responsibility.

The three teens were later found dead, sparking the violence that has raged since then.

READ: Israel's 'refusers': Why we too feel 'occupied'

READ: Gaza's zoo animals caught in crossfire

CNN's Ian Lee in Gaza and Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem, and Katia Hetter in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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