Tuesday, May 29, 2018

28 Motar Shells Hit Southern Israel In Largest Gaza Attack Since 2014, Israeli Military Strikes Gaza In Response

28 mortar shells strike southern Israel in largest barrage since 2014

At least 28 mortar shells were fired at southern Israel in at least three separate barrages Tuesday morning as sirens blared throughout the area, the army said, amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border.
One person was lightly injured by shrapnel in his shoulder and was being treated at the Soroka medical center in Beersheba. There were no reports of significant material damage. One shell hit a tree in the yard of a kindergarten shortly before children were due to arrive.
The shellings appeared to be the largest attack from the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

The head of the Eshkol region told Channel 10 news that the army told him the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, as revenge for the Israel Defense Forces killing three of its members in a cross-border exchange earlier in the week.
The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad did not immediately take responsibility for the mortar attacks, but its spokesperson praised them, saying “the blood of our people is not so cheap that the terrorists (Israel) can do what they want without deterrence.”
There were no immediate reports of a significant Israeli military retaliation to the attacks. Massive reprisal raids were expected, following the repeated, highly irregular mortar shellings on Tuesday morning.

Following the Gaza mortar attacks, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called for a “special situational assessment” from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other senior figures from Israel’s security services. They were due to meet in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, known as the Kirya, Liberman’s office said.
Palestinian media reported that Hamas and other terrorist groups were abandoning their positions in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected forceful response by the IDF.
The initial, primary bombardment came at 7 a.m., when approximately 25 mortar shells were toward the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, as parents were beginning to send their children to school, the IDF said.

The Israeli military struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to an early morning barrage of at least 28 mortar shells from Gaza at communities in southern Israel, with the Hamas terror group identifying one of the targets as its training facility.
“The IDF is operating in the Gaza Strip at this time,” an IDF spokesperson said in a statement. “The explosions heard now originate in this activity. Details to come.”
The strikes came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed to respond “with great force” to the mortar shells, one of which landed just outside a kindergarten less than an hour before children were due to arrive.
A Hamas spokesperson commented that “Israel will fail in the attempt to change the rules of the conflict and set a new equation on the ground.
“The resistance in the Gaza Strip reserves its right to react or remain silent in accordance with the interest of our people, and this does not come out of weakness,” he said.
A Palestinian official in Gaza cited by Haaretz said that terror groups were likely to refrain from responding to the Israeli strikes if they didn’t kill anybody. The source added that Egypt was in talks with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel in an effort to prevent a large-scale confrontation.
“Israel views the attacks on it and on its communities by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip with great severity,” Netanyahu said earlier, during a conference in the northern Galilee region, ahead of urgent security consultations set to take place later in the day.
“The IDF will retaliate with great force to these attacks,” the prime minister added. “Israel will make anyone trying to harm it pay a heavy price, and we view Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks against us.”
As a matter of policy, the Israeli army considers Hamas, which rules Gaza, to be responsible for any attack emanating from the beleaguered coastal enclave.

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