Palestinian Hamas militants attend a military drill in preparation to any upcoming confrontation with Israel, in the southern Gaza Strip March 25, 2018. .
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and top security officials met late Thursday to assess the situation in the South after a Hamas projectile struck southern Israel.
Attending were the IDF chief of staff, the head of military intelligence, the commanders of the Southern Command and Central Command, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and members of the Shin Bet.
Four Code Red incoming rocket sirens wailed in the Eshkol Regional Council Thursday, sending thousands of Israelis to bomb shelters. One mortar shell fell next to a cowshed. No injuries or damage were reported. The sirens were activated shortly after two mortar shells were fired at IDF troops near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in either incident.
Hamas fired the projectiles after an Israeli air strike killed Abdul-Karim Radwan
, 38, near Rafah as he was launching incendiary aerial devices. Three other Hamas operatives were wounded in the IAF strike.
An IDF tank responded by shelling a Hamas observation post east of Rafah.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that the IDF strike was “a shameful and stupid crime, the enemy bears all responsibility. He will pay the price for his blood. Eye for an eye. A tooth under a tooth.”
“The IDF will continue to act with great strength against terror activities that are being led by the Hamas terror movement and it views these activities seriously,” the IDF said.
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Tensions have significantly risen since last weekend when Hamas launched 200 mortars and rockets into the South, and Israel struck more than 40 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.
According to a report Tuesday by Channel 10, Israel has given Hamas via Egyptian intermediaries until Friday to stop the incendiary aerial devices before it launches a military offensive.
Hamas reportedly responded to the ultimatum by instructing its fighters to cease flying their incendiary devices and positioning gunmen along the border fence to prevent other Palestinian factions from launching the arson balloons and kites.
On Monday, Israel restricted the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing
to essential medicines and food. The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip was also halved to three nautical miles.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad responded by saying that there would be “severe consequences” for tightening the siege on Gaza, and that additional pressure on the coastal enclave would lead the region to “an explosion.”
KKL-JNF firefighters stationed near the Gaza Strip reported that flaming kites and balloons launched from Gaza caused nine blazes Thursday near Kibbutz Kissufim and two more in the region of Be’eri.
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