JERUALEM —Israeli forces struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing one Palestinian and wounding more than 30 others as militants launched dozens of rockets in some of the heaviest fighting the area has seen in months.
The flare-up increased pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to the violence, which escalated during the weekend and could turn into a major conflagration just two months before the country’s general election.
Israeli leaders quickly amped up their rhetoric, warning Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers they will pay a heavy price should they allow rocket fire toward Israel to continue.
“The world must understand that Israel will not sit idly in the face of attempts to attack us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We are prepared to intensify the response.”
Low-level cross-border fighting is common in the border area, but clashes escalated Thursday night when an explosives-packed tunnel under the Gaza-Israel frontier blew up, in what the Israeli military called an attempt by Palestinian militants to kill or kidnap soldiers. Palestinians said the blast was a roadside bomb to avenge the death of an 11-year-old boy who was shot dead earlier in the evening during an exchange of fire with Israelis.
Then on Saturday, militants fired an anti-tank missile into an Israeli military jeep patrolling the border fence, wounding four soldiers — one critically. Casualties of that order are rare for the Israeli military in clashes with Gaza militants.