May 1, 2009 / 12:12 PM / 11 years ago

First Israeli strike in 2 months hits Gaza tunnels

A Palestinian man inspects a tunnel destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip May 1, 2009. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli aircraft destroyed four smuggling tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Friday in the first air strike in almost two months, local residents and the Israeli military said.

Residents of the Gaza border town of Rafah said there were no casualties.

An Israeli army spokesman said the air strike was launched after Islamist militants fired a rocket into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday which landed on open land.

Militant rocket fire has dropped significantly since Egypt began efforts to consolidate the January 18 truce that ended Israel’s 22-day offensive against Gaza’s Islamic militants.

In early March, an Israeli missile killed a Palestinian militant and wounded another as they were preparing to launch a rocket, Israel said. Both were Islamic Jihad militants.

Israel launched its war on the territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement in late December, with the aim of halting cross-border rocket and mortar attacks on the Jewish state by armed militant groups.

A Palestinian human rights organization says 1,417 people were killed, of whom 926 were civilians. The Israeli military says the death toll was 1,166 of whom 295 were civilians.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Sophie Hares

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