Smoke and flame are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza, November 12, 2018.
(photo credit: AHMED ZAKOT / REUTERS)
The Israel Air Force struck several targets at a Hamas military base in the northern Gaza Strip early on Monday, and Israel withheld an anticipated $15 million Qatari cash transfer in retaliation for a rocket fired from the coastal enclave.
“Air force fighter jets and helicopters attacked several terror targets at a Hamas training camp in the northern Gaza Strip,” read a statement released by the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit. The strikes came after one rocket was fired towards the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council at 3:18 a.m. and intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the city of Ashkelon.
“The IDF holds Hamas responsible for all that takes place in the Gaza Strip,” the statement added.
According to the Palestinian News Agency Wafa, there were no casualties from the strikes, leaving only property damaged.
The IDF also struck targets near Jabalya and the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City, Palestinian media reported.
On Sunday an Israeli military helicopter struck two Hamas positions east of Khan Yunis after a cluster of explosive balloons attached to a drone was launched from Gaza. According to the police, there was an explosive device attached to the model drone that had the name of a Gazan engineering college written on it. There were no injuries.
According to media reports, Israel also delayed the transfer of $15 million in Qatari funds to Hamas. It would have been the third such payment since November when Israel began to skirt the Palestinian Authority by facilitating cash transfers of $15 million.
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Defense Ministry had any comment on the matter. But as of Monday night, there had been no formal notification that the Qatari cash had entered Gaza.
The money is earmarked for civil servant salaries, which the PA stopped paying as part of its economic sanctions against Hamas.
Israel hoped that the influx of cash would ease social unrest and reduce violence at the Gaza border.
Now that elections are under way, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing opponents have hammered him on this issue accusing him of being soft on terror.
“The Israeli government feeds Hamas with one hand and chastises it with the other,” former defense minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday.
“There is no consistent policy, no future vision and no willingness to cut off Hamas terror,” said Liberman who heads the Yisrael Beytenu party. He accused Netanyahu of withholding the money as an election ploy.
“It’s a shame Benjamin Netanyahu has understood only now, that Israel cannot finance terror against itself.
“I hope to hear that this decision [to withhold the funds] is absolute and is unrelated to the election and that after April 9, we will not see Netanyahu renew the money transfers to Hamas,” Liberman said.
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