Gantz Says Army Will Respond 'Forcefully' to Gaza Rockets to Restore Quiet in South

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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A house that was damaged by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip in Sderot, August 15, 2020.
A house that was damaged by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip in Sderot, August 15, 2020.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz said Sunday that the Israeli army will respond forcefully to rockets and explosive-laden balloons launched from the Gaza Strip on Saturday. 

In a situation assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Gantz said that Hamas was responsible for the launches from the Strip, adding that "as long as there is no quiet in Sderot, there will be no quiet in Gaza." 

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Two houses in the border community of Sderot were hit by Gaza rockets overnight Saturday. In response, Israel hit the Gaza Strip with several air strikes, and border clashes resumed on the fence, signalling a distinct escalation in the confrontation between Israeli forces and Gaza-based groups.

A Palestinian boy inspects the damage in his family home following Israeli airstrikes in Buriej refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, August 15, 2020.Credit: AP/Khalil Hamra

Gantz said that "by launching the rockets and balloons, the Hamas leadership are burning the industry on which the residents of the Gaza Strip rely, and hurt their ability to live with dignity and security. The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty until total calm in the south is restored."

In response to the escalation, Gantz ordered on Sunday morning the closure of Gaza's fishing zone entirely, after closing crossings and halting fuel deliveries. 

Alert sirens rang out around the city of Sderot, near the border, around 1 A.M. A military statement confirmed that two rockets had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Police said a house near Sderot had taken a direct hit from a rocket. An Israeli man of 58 was lightly injured by broken glass, a statement by emergency rescue service Magen David Adom said. 

The Israeli strikes hit a Hamas military compound and underground infrastructure belonging to the organization, the Israeli army said. No injuries were reported in the Strip, confirmed sources in the Gaza health establishment, adding that the strikes did however cause great panic among children specifically, and damage to several properties. 

Meanwhile, at least five Palestinians were injured, and two shot in the lower body, as about 300 came out to protest against Israel near the border fence on Saturday night. According to Palestinian sources and the Israeli army, protesters approached the fence and threw explosives at soldiers, who fired on them and used other riot-dispersal means.

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