Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Rockets And Airstrikes Resume In Southern Israel

Rockets and airstrikes resume in southern Israel

Amid growing concerns between Hamas and Israel, incoming rocket sirens were activated Tuesday night shortly after Israeli Air Force struck targets in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Israeli fighter jets struck several targets in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, including a military compound and a weapons manufacturing site belonging to Hamas, the military said.
The attack was carried out in response to the launching of a rocket from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory and the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons.

Moments after airstrikes, a rocket was fired from Gaza towards the industrial park south of the city of Ashkelon, the army said.

According to reports in Hebrew media the rocket was intercepted over the city, but unconfirmed reports said it fell in open territory causing no damage or casualties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who landed back in Israel in the late afternoon from Washington after cutting his trip short, met with senior security officials at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv shortly after addressing the AIPAC policy conference via a satellite connection.

We responded with great force,” he said. “In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago.”

At the same time as diplomatic efforts were taking place with the UN and Egypt acting as mediators between Israel and Hamas, the IDF said it was sending more troops to the Gaza border and approved the call-up of additional reserve forces.

The decision to send additional infantry and artillery battalions to the South was made following a situation assessment led by Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

According to a senior government official, Israel has not agreed to a ceasefire, and the fighting could erupt at any time.

“There is no agreement on a ceasefire,” he said. “The fighting is liable to be renewed at any moment, and it was decided to reinforce forces and prepare for a continuation.”

On Tuesday night, armed with signs and flags, about 100 Sderot residents gathered at the entrance to the city to protest what they called the government’s “non-policy” on rocket fire from Gaza.

Fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks and naval vehicles struck on Tuesday morning additional terrorist targets in a military compound belonging to Hamas in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, as well as a military compound belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beit Lahiya, the IDF said.

IDF tanks and attack helicopters and naval vessels also targeted several Hamas posts.

“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for all the goings on in and out of the Gaza Strip. The IDF is determined to carry out the task of protecting the citizens of Israel and is prepared for various scenarios and intensifying its operations as necessary,” the army said.

NEW RIGHT leader Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu to convene a meeting of the cabinet and take action to “neutralize Hamas.”

“Israel cannot surrender to Hamas again,” Bennett said. “This is the 10th round in the past year. Hamas directly hit a family in the center of the country, shot dozens of rockets at the towns by the Gaza border and held 200,000 students, teachers and parents hostage at home today. We, on the other hand, shot at some empty buildings and didn’t even kill one terrorist.”

Israel began its retaliatory strikes at around 5:20 p.m., striking Hamas targets in Shati, Beit Hanoun, Shejaia and other locations throughout the Gaza Strip. The targets included military compounds, tunnel shafts that were used to transport weapons, military positions and rocket-launching positions.

Another target struck by Israeli jets was the offices of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, as well as a building that served as an office for military meetings and as the headquarters of Hamas’s internal security forces.

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