Israeli warplanes bombed at least four targets in the Gaza Strip during the night in response to a rocket attack from the Palestinian enclave which killed a foreign worker on a kibbutz in Israel.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries as a result of the retaliatory air strikes which hit a tunnel used for smuggling on the Egyptian border, two open areas in Khan Younis and a metal foundry near Gaza City.
It was the strong reprisal action Israel had promised after a group linked to al-Qaeda, Ansar al Sunna, admitted carrying out the rocket attack on the kibbutz, just north of the Strip.
The exchanges have come at the worst possible time for would-be peacemakers.
US envoy George Mitchell is due in the region for talks and a meeting of the international “quartet” of Middle east peace negotiators in Moscow is taking place later today.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign policy supremo Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon all have their work cut out trying to find a way to get the opposing sides to enter into mediated “proximity” talks.
Palestinians and Israelis remain as far apart as ever.
Israel’s announcement that it intends to build 1600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem has all but derailed the latest international attempt to
restart the moribund Middle-East peace process.