An Israeli air force F-15 fighter jet flies during an exhibition as part of the graduation ceremony of air force pilots at Hatzerim air base in southern Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israel Defense Force fighter jets attacked 15 targets in Gaza early Tuesday morning, the IDF spokesperson announced as the rocket attacks on Israel's southern communities continued into a second day.
The targets include a military compound belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in Beit Hanun and a military compound belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Beit Lahiya.
Over 30 rockets were shot into Israeli airspace, some being taken out mid-air by the Iron Dome defense system and others hitting open areas. The red alert siren sounded throughout the night Tuesday in Sderot, the Eshkol Regional Council, the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, where a spokeswoman for the cluster of communities said power was cut due to the attacks.
Many residents reportedly slept in bomb shelters, as communities in the Gaza belt region have 15 seconds from the time the "tzeva adom" or "code red" warning siren is sounded until rocket impact.
The latest wave of rockets caused no injuries or property damage, said Adi Meiri, spokeswoman for Shaar Hanegev Regional Council but some residents were treated for shock.
School has been cancelled for Tuesday in the city of Ashkelon and the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, areas that have been hit by rockets in past flare-ups, the Ministry of Education announced following recommendations from the Home Front Command.
The escalation started early Monday morning when Hamas launched a rocket that flew toward the center of the country, slamming into a private home in Kfar Saba
. Seven people were injured and four dogs were killed. Located in the Sharon region, Kfar Saba, unlike the southern region, does not border on Gaza attesting to the range of the Gaza rockets.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled his scheduled speech at the AIPAC policy conference
in Washington and boarded a plane home to Israel Tuesday. "We gave a very strong, very powerful response," he stated of the retaliatory attacks on Gaza following the destruction of the home on Monday. "Hamas needs to know that we will not hesitate to enter and take the necessary steps," he added.
Elected officials across the spectrum have weighed in on the current security situation, including MK Moti Yogev, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who warned that a ceasefire with Hamas would not be enough of a deterrent.
"The destruction of terrorist homes is good," said Yogev in a tweet late Monday night, referring to the actions the IDF has taken against terrorists in the West Bank, "but in the Gaza Strip it is not enough."
He said that a ceasefire in the face of continued rocket attacks, "violates Israel's commitment to its citizens. Deterrence resides only when the leaders of terror are given a price that they will not be able to withstand."
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the New Right stated, "a ceasefire at these moments will be a tailwind for terrorism. There is no country in the world that would not charge a price for missiles shot at its citizens, and there is no country in the world whose blood is as empty as we have been in recent days. Bombing empty buildings endangers Israel's deterrence and brings the next missiles at us."
Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit faction of the Union of Right-Wing Parties called for Israel to return to Gush Katif
, the bloc of Gaza Jewish communities evicted in 2005.
Gaza was a territory of Israel from 1967 until the 2005 Disengagement, a unilateral move by the Israeli government, which removed all Israeli settlements, seen as obstacles to peace, and IDF forces from Gaza. The Palestinian population centers in Gaza had been under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction since the Oslo Accords of the mid 1990s.
A year after the Disengagement, Hamas won elections and in 2007 they took power from the Palestinian Authority over the strip. Since then, three major conflicts have occurred between Hamas and Israel: Operation Cast Lead in 2008–09, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
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