The Israeli military on Monday cut fuel transfers to Gaza in half in response to rocket attacks against Israel, raising tensions along its southern border in addition to a renewed threat from the north amid its reported strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the measure to take effect immediately and until further notice. The cut is expected to exacerbate the already dire flow of electricity in the impoverished coastal strip.

The move follows airstrikes the military carried out overnight in the Gaza Strip, after three rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel.

The military said the airstrikes included one on the office of a Hamas commander in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no reports of casualties.


Air raid sirens warning of an incoming attack wailed late on Sunday during an outdoor music festival in the Israeli border town of Sderot, sending panicked revelers scurrying for cover. The military said two rockets were intercepted by its missile defense system.

The rocket attack was the latest in a recent uptick following a relative lull that has threatened to unleash another round of fighting along the volatile Gaza-Israel border.

Gaza's Hamas rulers say that Israel's slow-moving approach to implementing an unofficial Egyptian-brokered truce aimed at alleviating the enclave's dire living conditions could lead to further escalation.

The continued impasse, in which Gaza's humanitarian crisis has been highlighted by the occasional outburst of violence, has also begun to spark criticism in Israel, where officials have been advocating for a stronger military response alongside a need to address the civilian needs of Gaza's impoverished 2 million residents.

"Israel's strategy over the past few years has been to maintain the situation as it is," retired general Guy Tzur told Israel's Army Radio. "Therefore we are in a strategy of 'rounds' (of violence) and this does nothing to change the situation ... we need to establish deterrence on the one hand and provide serious humanitarian relief on the other."

The Gaza flare-up comes as Israel has also dramatically stepped up its campaign against Iranian military aggression in the region. In recent days, Israel has acknowledged attacking targets near Damascus to thwart what it called an imminent Iranian drone strike against Israel.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years, most of them aimed at arms shipments believed to be headed from Iran to its Shiite proxy Hezbollah. But direct clashes between Israel and Iranian forces have been rare.

Lebanese officials reported that Israeli warplanes also attacked a Palestinian base in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria early Monday, a day after an alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby.


In recent days, US officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy and has repeatedly vowed that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, where Iranian troops have been supporting President Bashar Assad during the country's eight-year civil war.

- AP