IDF fighter jets and aircraft retaliated with strikes following intensified efforts by Palestinian Islamists to terrorize the southern communities of Israel. Militant installations were targeted throughout the Gaza Strip, including a military compound belonging to one of the special arrays of the Islamist Hamas organization.
Tensions on Israel’s southern front with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been steadily rising along with increased prospects of a wider escalation.
Palestinians indiscriminately fired a rocket toward Askelon last night, forcing over 132,000 residents of the Israeli city to rush to safety inside bomb shelters within the 30-second instructions by the IDF Home Front Command. The incoming projectile exploded in an uninhabited area and caused no direct injuries or damage. Two young girls sustained light injuries while rushing for cover and taken by ambulance to a nearby medical center for treatment.
In addition, incendiary and explosive balloons launched from Gaza ignited more than 60 blazes at separate locations within Israeli territory over the past 24 hours.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a briefing on the situation during a telephone conversation with mayors and regional council heads of the southern communities, in which he stressed that there is no difference in the government’s response to Palestinian arson and rocket fire.
“We have been active for the past ten days straight in shelling the infrastructures of Hamas and the terrorist organizations,” he said, noting that, “We have also imposed various sanctions in areas that are important to Hamas.”
The Premier also revealed that plans are underway for a potential widening of the conflict involving a military operation against the Islamist factions in Gaza. “I regret that we are also preparing, to the extent necessary, for the possibility of a round or rounds,” he said. After underscoring that while “I hope that we will not get there,” he went on to reiterate that Palestinian violence will not be tolerated.
Netanyahu also expressed hope that Hamas and its ally, the Iranian-proxy Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), would remember the consequences that befell them after previous Israeli operations in Gaza. “Hamas will be making a very great mistake if it continues like this. Even now it is receiving an indication of where this will lead. It will certainly remember where it had led, and I hope that Islamic Jihad also remembers where it had led. We have not spared any measure including – in the event of the development of a campaign – targeted assassinations; and also today, there is no such restriction,” he warned.
In word of praise to his nation’s southern citizens, the Israeli leader said, “I very much appreciate your resilience and the fact that you understand that we are not taking this lightly. I am not taking it lightly, neither am I familiar with anyone in our leadership who takes it lightly, and we will act with full force against it.”
The visiting-Egyptian delegation of senior intelligence officials departed Gaza without reaching an arrangement with Hamas to alleviate the volatile situation. As previously reported by TV7, the Islamists issued a registry of demands in exchange for the cessation of the recent terrorist activities against Israel. This was quickly rejected by Jerusalem, stressing that it would never acquiesce to any conditions under threat nor accept use of citizens as leverage for any intent or purpose.
Cairo is now cautioning that the situation may soon exacerbate into a wide-scale configuration.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asserted during a briefing of the southern Fire and Rescue precinct that Jerusalem has “nothing against the civilian population in Gaza. To the contrary, we want to a time that will benefit them, a time when they will be able to live in peace, quiet and educate their children.”
He then stressed that the people of Gaza are being “held hostage by Hamas, which also thinks that we are held by its hands (terror).”
“Hamas should know – these activities are no game. We do not see them as a game,” said the Israeli President, warning in no uncertain terms, “A moment will arrive in which they will have to decide. If they want war, they will have war.”