Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his security cabinet Saturday afternoon and instructed the army “to give a hard blow” to terror groups in the Gaza Strip amid a fresh escalation of violence.
By: Adina Katz
At least 250 rockets were fired into Israel throughout the day on Saturday, beginning at around 10 a.m. Israel responded with airstrikes on more than one hundred targets across the coastal enclave, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The escalation began on Friday when two IDF soldiers were shot and wounded by Gaza gunfire near the Gaza border.
Saturday’s rocket barrage comes less than a day after two militants from Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, were killed in an Israeli strike on Hamas posts in Gaza.
The IDF said that its Iron Dome aerial defense system had intercepted dozens of the incoming rockets.
“Hundreds of Gazans rioted on Israel’s border. Our soldiers stood between the rioters and Israeli families living a short distance away. Using civilians as cover, a sniper fired at our soldiers, wounding two,” the IDF stated on Friday.
Air-raid sirens sounded throughout the south on Saturday and as far north as Bet Shemesh, a central Israeli city near Jerusalem.
Israeli medical officials said an 80-year-old woman was severely wounded by the rocket fire, a 50-year-old man was moderately wounded by shrapnel and a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover.
United Hatzalah volunteers in the south treated numerous people who were injured over the course of the day. Some of those injured were in serious condition while others were moderately or lightly injured, the emergency medical services organization said.
In response to the Gaza rocket fire on Saturday, Israel’s military said, IDF began aerial strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets (PIJ) at about 2 p.m., including: four Hamas training and weapons manufacturing compounds. Hamas naval compound and a PIJ-Hamas joint military compound.
The Israeli military reportedly hit a six-story commercial and residential structure Saturday evening.
The flare-up occurs just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Sunday, and Israeli Independence Day.
Under orders from the IDF, schools in the cities and towns near the Gaza Strip were canceled for Sunday. With no imminent end to the hostilities in sight, workplaces will only be permitted to open only if they have access to a bomb shelter, and gatherings of more than 300 people also will not be allowed, including in shopping centers, Times of Israel reported.
Hamas has threatened to disrupt the Eurovision song contest slated to be held in Tel Aviv next month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his security cabinet Saturday.
“As a tense and worrying Shabbat ends, I am praying for those injured and thinking of those sheltering from rockets in their safe spaces. We will continue to stand against this dreadful terror and will respond forcefully and unwaveringly to any attack on the security of our people. I ask you all, please, to listen carefully to the instructions of the DF Homefront Command which save lives time after time, and take good care of yourselves,” President Reuven Rivlin stated.
“The State of Israel has the duty and the full right to do all that is necessary to protect our people and our sovereignty, and we will continue do so at all times,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said, calling on the Security Council to “take this opportunity to finally condemn terrorism against Israel, designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and support the fundamental right of Israel to self-defense.”
The delegation of UN ambassadors currently visiting Israel, at the initiative of Ambassador Danon, is scheduled to visit the south, Israel’s mission to the U.N. said.
CNN reported that the UN says it is working with Egypt to try to restore a ceasefire and says both sides are putting at risk efforts to relieve the suffering of people in Gaza.
The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, announcing renewed efforts with Egypt to restore calm, called on all parties to immediately de-escalate or risk a conflict with “grave consequences for all.”
Turkey has condemned a strike on a building housing the office of its state-run Anadolu news agency, a building which Israel says is also used by Hamas’s military intelligence, according to a CNN report.
Israel announced that it is closing the two border crossings between Israel and Gaza, as well as closing the Gaza fishing zone.
The fishing zone was restricted to 6 nautical miles earlier this week following a rocket fired from Gaza that landed off the coast of Israel.
There was no specific date for when the crossings and the fishing zone would reopen, according to the CNN report. (World Israel News)
Read more at: worldisraelnews.com
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