Monday, March 25, 2019

7 Injured, Home Destroyed In Gaza Rocket Fire, Netanyahu Vows To Respond 'Forcefully' To Attack

7 injured in rocket fire, Netanyahu says 'will respond with force'

Seven people were injured Monday morning the rocket launched from the Gaza Strip struck a private home in central Israel, the third long-range rocket fired from the Hamas-run enclave in two weeks.

The attack triggered Code Red incoming rocket sirens at around 5:20 a.m. throughout the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions and a loud explosion was heard after the rocket struck the home in the community of Mishmeret north of Kfar Saba.

The strike set off a fire in the home, destroying it completely.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon visited the house where the rocket landed and said that "'The bomb shelter saved the life of my family.' This is what the father of the family said to me and that is a message to all the residents of Israel, as soon as you hear an alarm - go to the bomb shelter. I do not wish anyone to go through such an event, but if there is an alarm, do not be lazy and go to the bomb shelter."

Magen David Adom rescue services said that seven people, including two children and an infant, were treated for wounds and evacuated to Meir Hospital.

Of those injured, a woman in her 60s was in moderate condition suffering from blast injuries, minor burns and shrapnel wounds and a woman in her 30s was in moderate condition with shrapnel injuries. Two men aged 60 and 30 as well as a girl aged 12, a 3 year-old boy and a 18 month-old infant, were lightly injured.

Several neighbors are being treated for shock and four dogs were found dead on site.

The Israeli military said that it had identified the launch of one rocket from the Gaza Strip, some 100 kilometers away from where it struck. The Iron Dome missile defense system had not been activated.

Following the attack Israel decided to close the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings as well as well reduce the permitted fishing area off the coast of the Gaza Strip until further notice. 

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a residential building in central Israel early Monday morning, injuring seven people, including two infants, and leveling the structure, officials said.
The attack triggered air raid sirens at approximately 5:20 a.m. throughout the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions north of Tel Aviv, the army said.
According to the military, the rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, where earlier this month two rockets were also fired at Tel Aviv, in what was described at the time as an apparent “mistake” by the Hamas terror group.

The Iron Dome missile defense system did not appear to have been activated by the rocket attack. The military said it was still investigating the matter.
Police said the projectile early Monday struck a residential building in the community of Mishmeret, on the Sharon plain, causing it to catch fire. The shrapnel from the rocket attack also caused significant damage to the surrounding area, as fragments hit a gas tank outside the building.
Drone footage of the site showed that the majority of the structure, which contained two housing units, had been flattened by the strike.
There are fears that violence will ramp up this week, with Hamas hoping to draw hundreds of thousands of rioters to the fence over the weekend to mark a year of so-called March of Return protests, which began March 30, 2018.
Firefighters and search-and-rescue workers arrived at the scene to extinguish the blaze caused by the rocket and look for any survivors who might be trapped in the destroyed building, the fire department said.
The rocket is believed to have been fired from the Rafah area in southern Gaza, approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Mishmeret, making it the farthest reaching attack from the enclave since the 2014 Gaza war, during which projectiles reached as far north as the city of Haifa.
The distance of the attack and significant damage caused by the impact indicated that it was conducted by one of the larger terror groups in Gaza — either the Strip’s de facto rulers Hamas or the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad — who have access to the types of long-range projectiles with heavy warheads necessary for such an attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to the United States on Monday after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a residential building in central Israel early Monday morning, injuring seven people, including two infants, and leveling the structure.
“A few minutes ago I finished a briefing and consultation with the chief of staff [of the IDF], the head of the Shin Bet and the national security adviser,” Netanyahu said in a hastily released video from Washington. “This was a criminal attack on Israel and we will respond forcefully,” he vowed.
He said he would stay in Washington just long enough to meet US President Donald Trump on Monday morning local time, “and immediately afterward return to Israel to oversee our response first-hand.”

The prime minister is to meet Trump at the White House on Monday for the expected signing of an order recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
He will also conduct a “working meeting” with Trump, which will focus on “Iranian aggression, Iran’s attempts to establish military bases in Syria, and how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” according to an earlier statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. “The two will also discuss strengthening security and intelligence cooperation.”
Netanyahu was set to address some 18,000 people at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference in Washington on Tuesday morning, and in the evening was due to attend a dinner at the White House.
In Netanyahu’s absence — in keeping with an Israeli law that says a prime minister or an acting replacement must always remain on Israeli soil to lead cabinet meetings if the PM is detained abroad — Tourism Minister Yariv Levin is currently the temporary acting prime minister. Since Levin is not a member of the cabinet’s national security committee, the so-called “security cabinet,” however, before he left for Washington Netanyahu appointed Absorption Minister Yoav Galant, who is, to lead the body in charge of authorizing military operations in his stead.
Netanyahu’s decision to return to Israel followed criticism from election rivals in the hours after the attack.
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz called on Netanyahu to immediately return to Israel and deal with the security situation. Other lawmakers also called for stern action against Hamas, the de facto rulers of Gaza, in response to the rocket fire.
“Netanyahu has lost his grip on security and Israeli citizens are again facing sirens and a direct hit on a house, this time in the Sharon [region],” Gantz said in a statement.

Israel has deployed two infantry and armored brigades to southern Israel and has begun a limited call up for reservists in the intelligence and air defense corps following rocket fire on central Israel Monday morning, the IDF said.
According to IDF Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the rocket was fired by Hamas operatives from a Hamas military post in Rafiah in the southern part of the Strip and had a range of 120 kilometers.
Manelis, who refused to answer if the rocket was fired accidentally or deliberately, said that it was serious incident and that Israel is holding Hamas responsible.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza,” Manelis says on a call with reporters.

Following the incident, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a situational assessment with the Commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, the head of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior officers.

The two additional brigades sent to bolster the IDF’s Gaza Division with some 1,000 soldiers had been conducting training exercises, but were cut short due to the heightened tensions.

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