Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza as Sirens Blare in Border Communities

Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza as Sirens Blare in Border Communities

March 25, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Bomb shelters opened ■ Thousands of reservists to be called up ■ Army warns civilians: Explosions to be heard as part of attack on the Strip ■ Three wounded from rocket strike still hospitalized.

Monday, 9:50 P.M.

Hamas media reports Egypt has managed to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and the Gaza factions.

After a rocket from Gaza hit central Israel Monday, the Israeli air force launched an offensive striking Hamas targets in the Strip.

Seven people were wounded Monday in the early morning after a house north of Tel Aviv was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short his visit to Washington and return to Israel.

Local councils and cities near the Gaza border as well as in central and northern Israel opened bomb shelters in preparation for responses to the offensive.

Gaza Health Ministry reports three wounded were evacuated in light to medium condition to a hospital after an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip.

Gaza factions war room warns that if the Israeli offensive persists, the coastal city of Ashdod will enter the launch radius.

The Israeli army began striking targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday evening, nearly 12 hours after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave hit a house in central Israel, injuring seven people.

Earlier Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mobilized two infantry units and one artillery brigade to reinforce troops deployed near the Gaza Strip, while air defense reserve units were called up in preparation for a forceful response to the rocket attack.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a house in the village of Mishmeret at 5:18 am on Monday, in the heavily populated suburban area north of the metropolis of Tel Aviv. Seven people were injured, among them two children and a baby, and a total of 30 houses in the area were reported damaged.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on the rocket attack in Washington D.C., where he met US President Donald Trump at the White House. Netanyahu had been due to address the annual AIPAC policy conference on Tuesday but cut his trip short in order to oversee security operations.

“This was a criminal attack on Israel, and we will respond forcefully,” Netanyahu vowed.

The IDF said it held Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas responsible for the rocket attack, while the group reportedly told Egyptian interlocutors that the launch was an “accident” caused by inclement weather and promised to investigate.

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“No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the enemy,” a Hamas official told the AFP news agency.

Israeli officials believe, however, that the attack — which came just a week after another rocket attack targeting the greater Tel Aviv region — was ordered by Hamas to test Israel’s response in the run-up to the country’s April 9 national elections.

Israel shuttered border crossings to the Strip and reduced the permitted fishing zone off its coast in response to the Monday morning attack but has yet to strike inside the enclave.

Senior defense officials said that a “forceful” response, as promised by the prime minister, was delayed by Netanyahu’s visit to Washington as well as unsuccessful attempts by Egypt to de-escalate the situation.

Members of the political defense echelon warned that Israel would not hesitate to order a full-scale operation in Gaza ahead of elections, while Netanyahu’s political opponents took aim at Israel’s declining deterrence under his leadership.

Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza as Sirens Blare in Border Communities

Anticipating a forceful Israeli response, Hamas ordered the immediate evacuation of all of its bases, offices, and positions in the Strip while Gazan militant groups issued a joint statement warning that all of Israel would be targeted by “resistance fire” if the IDF carried out strikes in the enclave.

The IDF, meanwhile, was meeting with the heads of local councils near the Gaza border in order to prepare them for a possible escalation which could see Israeli communities in the vicinity of the border targeted with rockets.

The army declared the area in the vicinity of the Gaza border a closed military zone and issued orders to residents limiting gatherings to no more than 300 people and halting all agricultural work on the border until further notice.

Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport altered flight landing patterns ahead of an expected response, while Israel Railways announced the closure of a number of train stops in the Gaza border vicinity.

Tel Aviv municipality and several Israeli communities in the south, including the city of Ashkelon, opened public air raid shelters in coordination with the IDF Home Front Command.

Mary Greeley News

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