IDF to respond strongly if Gaza rockets continue - security cabinet

The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip has been completely closed until further notice.

TRAILS ARE seen in the sky as an Iron Dome projectile intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza, above Ashkelon in May 2019.  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
TRAILS ARE seen in the sky as an Iron Dome projectile intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza, above Ashkelon in May 2019.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
The IDF will respond powerfully if rocket fire from Gaza continues, the security cabinet decided on Monday after an hours-long debate.
The cabinet authorized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to instruct the IDF to react strongly if Gazan terrorist groups launch more rockets on the heels of a weekend that saw more than 40 rockets launched into southern Israel.
The ministers also voted in favor of an operational plan to strike Hamas.
UN Special Envoy Tor Wennesland and Egypt said Hamas does not want an escalation, Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian, coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), told the security cabinet.
Terrorists launched three rockets from Gaza into Israel in the early hours of Monday morning. Iron Dome missiles intercepted two, and one projectile exploded inside the Gaza Strip. More than 40 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into the South since violence began on Friday.
The IDF responded with fighter jets and tank fire on Friday, but it refrained from doing so since then. On Monday, the army denied reports it had reinforced troops near the Gaza Strip.
About 250 Palestinians held protests and burned tires near the security fence in several venues, the IDF said. The army dispersed them with tear gas.
Early Monday morning, Alian said the Gaza Strip fishing zone would be completely closed starting at 6 a.m. until further notice.
COGAT had issued an earlier statement that the fishing zone would be restricted from 15 to nine nautical miles. But after more rockets were fired, the decision was made to completely close it.
“The decision was made in light of repeated terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip against the citizens of the State of Israel during recent days, which constitute a violation of Israeli sovereignty,” COGAT said.
“Hamas is held accountable for all that is done in and from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, and it will bear the consequences for the violence committed against the citizens of the State of Israel,” it said in a statement.
Also on Monday, Col. Iyad Sarhan, head of the coordination and liaison administration for Gaza, approached residents of the Gaza Strip through Facebook and said Hamas was to blame for the escalation. He stressed that by doing so, Hamas was hurting the Strip’s residents.
“The blessed month of Ramadan is intended to be a time for families, and yet, Hamas has chosen a course to the detriment of the Gaza Strip, and rather than investing in the improvement of the civil and economic situation, it is escalating and bringing harm first and foremost to you,” Sarhan said.
“Following three days of rocket fire from the terrorist organizations, Israel has decided to close the fishing zone that has been significantly contributing to the Gaza Strip’s economy and welfare,” he said.
“The security stability is a direct factor that affects the civilian reality in the Strip,” Sarhan said. “Unless the security stability returns, the fishing zone of the Gaza Strip won’t be extended.”