Israel strikes 40 Hamas targets over two weeks in response to rocket fire

Two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip Sunday slammed into the community of Netiv HaAsara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council area, with shrapnel from the impact slightly damaging a home.

December 18, 2017 20:07
3 minute read.
A Palestinian boy near a militant target that was hit in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza

A Palestinian boy rides a bicycle near a militant target that was hit in an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)


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Israeli jets struck six Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday night, after rockets were fired into southern Israel earlier in the evening, one of which slightly damaged a home.

Israel Air Force planes struck the targets, including a military compound that served as a training site and other terrorist infrastructures, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in a statement.

“Hamas is exclusively responsible for the situation in the Gaza Strip. The IDF takes the firing of rockets at Israeli communities very seriously and will not allow any harm or attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel,” the statement said.
IDF video outlining activity in the Gaza Strip during the first two weeks of December, 2017. (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip slammed into the community of Netiv Hashayara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council area, with shrapnel from the impact slightly damaging a home. A second rocket that landed in open territory caused no damage.

Sirens sounded again in the Ashkelon Industrial Zone and nearby communities at 2:30 a.m., but the IDF said the rocket fell inside the Hamas-run enclave.

While there were no reported injuries from Sunday night’s rocket fire, Tamir Idan, head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, demanded an IDF response to the incident.

“We expect and demand that the security forces will respond strongly and make it clear to the terrorists that the State of Israel is determined not to allow such firing [of rockets] to continue,” said Idan.

“We are not prepared for an emergency situation to become our daily routine,” he added.

Israeli jets have struck more than 40 Hamas targets over the past two weeks, following days of almost constant rocket fire aimed at communities in southern Israel that border the Gaza Strip.

Since December 7, Hamas observation posts, military compounds, weapons depots and weapons-production sites have been targeted by Israeli fighter jets, combat helicopters and tanks.

Tensions along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip have been high of late, after US President Donald Trump announced that the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His declaration set off riots across the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Since then, the most serious violence between Israel and Hamas since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, has occurred. In 2017, 23 rockets have been targeted at Israel, 18 of which were fired in the past week, compared with 42 that were launched from September 2014 until the end of 2016.

Last week, the Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted a rocket fired toward Ashkelon, some 20 km. from Gaza. According to residents who spoke to The Jerusalem Post, it was the first time in three years they heard an incoming rocket siren followed by an interception.

On Monday, opposition leaders accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being weak and called on him to respond more forcefully to rockets launched from the Strip.

“We are already in the third week of Kassam rocket fire toward southern communities. The State of Israel must not accept the situation in which children and families are in bomb shelters,” said Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay at the weekly Zionist Union faction meeting in the Knesset.

“But the prime minister is weak against Hamas. For two weeks, they’ve been firing on our citizens and Netanyahu has said nothing,” he continued.

“When they asked him here in the Knesset last week about the situation on the southern border, he said ‘Next.’ ‘Next’ to hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are under fire. He does not say a word about it and does not show empathy to the residents.”

“And it isn’t as if the prime minister doesn’t have time,” Gabbay said, “Yesterday, we heard him address bitcoin at length. But about the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under fire – that he doesn’t have time to address.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also blasted the government.

“The State of Israel cannot allow itself, time after time, to set red lines for our enemies and then not stand up to them,” he said. “This is what happened with regard to the Iranian entrenchment in Syria. This is what is happening now with Gaza. We are a regional power. It cannot be that Hamas provokes us without being met with a sharp response.”

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