White House Backs Israel Over Retaliatory Airstrike on Gaza

Asked about IDF strike, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says U.S. stands with Israel in right to defend against rocket attacks.

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Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 3, 2014.
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 3, 2014. Credit: AP

The White House reaffirmed on Sunday its support for Israel's right to defend itself after Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a series of rocket attacks.

"Clearly the U.S. stands with the people of Israel as they defend their people and their nation against these kind of attacks," White House spokesman Josh Earnest, accompanying President Barack Obama at a G7 summit in Germany, told reporters.

On Saturday evening, a rocket exploded in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel. No damage was reported.

A Salafist group calling itself the Omar Brigades, which identifies with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Twitter later Saturday night. The group said it would not abide by an informal truce agreed between Hamas and Israel after last summer's 50-day Gaza war, adding that that the rockets were a reminder to Hamas that Israel, not the Salafists, were "the enemy."

In response, Israel Air Force struck “terror infrastructure” targets in northern Gaza Strip overnight, according to a statement released just before 4 A.M. by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also ordered the closure of both the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and the Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in several locations in the south during the past week following several incidents of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory.

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