Defense Minister Gantz warns Hamas: If Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either

Israel closes entire Gaza fishing zone over continued violence; Gaza power plant to shut down Tuesday

A house in Sderot is damaged by fallen rocket fragments after the Iron Dome intercepted rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel, August 16, 2020. (Credit Police Spokespersons Unit)
After a weekend of violence left both Israeli and Palestinian injured, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Hamas that the IDF would not stop striking the Gaza Strip unless all attacks from the coastal enclave ceased.
“The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty until complete quiet is restored in the south. If Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either,” Gantz said, following a security situation assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
“Every explosive balloon or rocket landing in Israel, and violating its sovereignty, holds one return address: Hamas. By launching rockets and explosive balloons, the heads of Hamas are undermining the interests of the residents of Gaza and are impairing their ability to live in dignity and security” he said.
Gantz made the comments several hours after five Israelis were wounded when Hamas fired at rockets towards southern Israel around 1 a.m. Two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
According to the IDF, fragments from one of the interceptor rockets slammed into the yard of a home in the southern college town of Sderot, heavily damaging the home and injuring a 58-year-old man who was lightly hurt by glass.
Two other women were treated for shock, while another two hurt themselves while running to the bomb shelter.
Hamas said the rocket attacks were in response to Israel’s targeting of Palestinians who protested along the border fence late Saturday night, injuring at least two.
“Israel’s deliberate attack on demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip and shooting of live ammunition is another crime in a long list being carried out against the Palestinian people,” the terror group said in a statement.
The IDF confirmed that clashes broke out and that dozens of Palestinian “rioters burned tires, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it.”
In response to the rocket attacks on Sderot, Israeli jets carried out a wave of airstrikes against Hamas targets, including a military compound used to store rocket ammunition.
Hours earlier Israeli jets carried out a round of airstrikes which targeted a Hamas military compound and underground infrastructure in response to the continued launching of incendiary balloons which ignited over a dozen fires in southern Israel over the weekend.
In response to the increase in violence in the south, The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced early Sunday morning that it was fully closing the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip “immediately and until further notice.”
“This is following the rocket fire tonight, the continued launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip toward the Israeli citizens and the undermining of security stability,” COGAT said in a statement.
“The State of Israel will react forcefully and in an uncompromising manner to any act of terrorism which hurts the citizens of the State of Israel and its sovereignty and will continue doing so for as long as it takes. Hamas is accountable for all that is done in the Gaza Strip, as well as for actions launched from Gaza against Israel. Therefore, Hamas will have to bear the consequences of the violence committed against the citizens of Israel as long as the security calm doesn’t remain,” it added.
Israel has closed its Kerem Shalom goods crossing with the Gaza Strip except for essential humanitarian goods and stopped the entry of fuel into the blockaded coastal enclave in response to the continued launching of the aerial devices.
Following the blockage of fuel into the Strip, Gaza’s power plant will suspend operations on Tuesday morning, the Chairman of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority, Zafer Melhem, was quoted by Palestinian Wafa News agency as saying.
The plant provides nearly a third of Gaza’s electricity and its shutdown will lead to an increase in power supply deficit to over 75%.
With some 19 fires igniting in fields in southern Israel on Sunday burning around 80 dunams (19.7 acres) in the forests around the communities of Kissufim, Be’eri and Ein Hashlosha, Palestinians reported that those launching the balloons have received a warning message from the IDF.
“Since you are participating in the activity of launching the aerial explosive balloons to Israel, we warn you that you have become a target for IDF activity.”
The messages, which were shared on social media sites, could not be independently verified by The Jerusalem Post.
Celia Jean contributed to this report.