Israel Strikes Gaza Targets After Rocket Fire

Rocket launched hours after Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to hit Gaza with a 'crushing blow'

Gaza rockets intercepted by Iron Dome missiles defense system in southern Israel, November 2019.
Gaza rockets intercepted by Iron Dome air defense system in southern Israel, November 2019. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The air force struck targets in Gaza on Sunday night after a rocket was fired at Israel's south from the enclave, the military said, amid tensions between Israel and Palestinians in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's presentation of the Mideast peace plan.

The military said a number of facilities used by Hamas were targeted, including a training area.

Netanyahu's 'annexation nation' is ready to strike again. ListenCredit: Haaretz Weekly Ep. 60

Sirens were heard in the city of Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev regional council earlier. The Israeli military confirmed that it identified the launching of one rocket. No damage or casualties were reported.

On Monday morning, an Egyptian security delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip to meet with Hamas leaders and Palestinian factions. According to sources in the Strip, the main priority is reestablishing calm in the area.

Netanyahu speaks at a press conference, November 20, 2019Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Palestinian factions have launched rockets and explosive-laden balloons toward Israel over the last ten days, to which Israel responded by targeting Hamas positions near the border fence as well as tunnels and arms depots, according to army statements.

Hours before the rockets were fired, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would not agree to any aggression emanating from the Strip, and is prepared to hit the enclave with a "crushing blow."

The premier added that Israel "is powerful," and still hasn't demonstrated all of its capabilities.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said while touring the Gaza Division Sunday that the "Reckless conduct of Hamas leaders in Gaza is pushing us to carry out a lethal attack on the Strip," without saying when and where.

"No one will be immune from Israel's future actions," the defense minister said, adding that those "actions will differ from those taken in the past.

In addition, Bennett said that Hamas can opt between a life of prosperity or resorting to terror, which "will exert a heavy price."

Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum responded to Netanyahu's threat, calling it a "desperate attempt to petrify the Palestinian people and resistance forces in order to distract from his past failed attempts, his crimes in the West Bank and his domestic crises."

According to Barhoum, who spoke to reporters in Gaza Sunday afternoon, Israel's aggression is relentless, but such threats will not faze the Palestinian people. He also warned Israel against foolish behavior.

The Islamic Jihad in Gaza responded to Netanyahu's statements Sunday, saying its militant forces will not hesitate to respond to Israeli attacks, as "The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and their land against Israeli terrorism."

The Israeli government decided Sunday to install security cameras and set up a fence surrounding Ashkelon's industrial area to prevent perpetrators from infiltrating into Israel from Gaza.

The government will allocate 35 million shekels to renovate 60 bomb shelters in Ashkelon, purchase equipment for emergency depots and install cameras to locate Gaza rockets exploding in open areas.

On Saturday, Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas military posts in the northern Gaza Strip, in retaliation for a rocket launched toward Israel, the Israeli army said. The tit-for-tat followed a day of relative calm.

Three Palestinian teens were killed by Israeli fire last week during clashes at West Bank demonstrations opposing Trump's peace plan. In addition, a Palestinian Authority policeman was killed in the city of Jenin, despite having not posed a threat to Israeli soldiers, according to an intial investigation by the Israeli military.

On Wednesday, Israel reduced Gaza's fishing zone from 10 to 15 nautical miles saying it was in response to increased militant activity against Israel originating from the strip.

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