Hamas vows revenge after nine members killed
A Palestinian woman Hamas supporter hold up a rifle during a protest against the kidnapping and killing a Palestinian teenager by Israeli settlers in Jerusalem earlier in the week, and against any Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in the Jabalya refugee camp, in northern Gaza, on July 4, 2014. [AFP]
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A grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday reached an open area just outside of Beersheba, further than any of the previous strikes in the past few weeks. No injuries or damages were reported.
The rocket was launched after the IAF struck 14 targets in Gaza overnight Monday in two waves of air strikes. Nine terrorists - including seven Hamas who were in a tunnel in Rafah - were killed, though it is not immediately clear whether the seven Hamas men died as a result of an air strike or a "working accident" in the underground structure. In the second wave of strikes, launched a few hours later, five underground rocket launchers were bombed in Gaza.
Earlier, on Sunday night, the IAF struck a terrorist cell in central Gaza which was in the process of carrying out a rocket attack on Israel, the IDF said. Two terrorists were killed in that strike.
Hamas said most of the strikes were launched at a gathering point for its members in Gaza's southern-most town of Rafah, at the Egyptian border. Another strike was launched in northern Gaza, it said.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of committing a "grave escalation" in violence and threatened to retaliate, saying Israel would "pay the price."
Also overnight, adding to tensions, a mortar shell was launched into the Golan Heights from Syria and the IDF retaliated by shooting at targets across the border.
A barrage of rocket fire hit southern Israel on Sunday amid calls from within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition for a wide-scale mission in the Gaza Strip.
The Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council area was battered with ten rockets from Gaza. Residents of the communities in the Sha'ar Hanegev area were instructed to remain in fortified shelters.
Seven rockets hit the Eshkol Regional Council area , one of which started a brush fire, and an additional two rockets landed in open territory in the Ashkelon Coast Council region.
At least 150 rockets have landed in Israeli territory since June 14 when the West Bank operation to find three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered by Hamas commenced , the IDF said Sunday.
While Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman have called for a wide-scale operation in Gaza, Israel has thus far limited its response to air strikes on select terror targets.
Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting that Israel must act “with composure and responsibly," and not with “militancy or rashness.”
Israeli warplanes struck rocket-launching targets in the Gaza Strip before dawn on Sunday, the army announced.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, IAF aircraft hit 10 targets in central and southern Gaza.
Palestinians in Gaza fired Grad rockets at Beersheba and Ashkelon on Saturday evening, escalating their ongoing attacks on the South.
Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries intercepted one rocket over Beersheba for the first time since Israel clashed with Hamas in November 2012, and soon afterward, three more rockets were intercepted over Ashkelon. Several additional rockets hit open areas in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Ashkelon regions.
On Saturday evening, the Israel Air Force struck in Gaza, targeting a terrorist who was about to fire a rocket, the military said. The terrorist had fired rockets at Ofakim in recent days, the IDF added.
Palestinian rocket and mortar fire continued to target southern communities throughout the weekend, with some 30 projectiles striking areas close to the Gaza border on Friday and Saturday.
A soldier was wounded by shrapnel from a projectile in the Eshkol region on Saturday.
Paramedics evacuated him to the hospital.
Earlier in the day, the Iron Dome system intercepted a projectile over the town of Ofakim.
The regions of Sdot Negev and Eshkol came under regular projectile fire throughout the day. The air force struck three Hamas targets in southern Gaza.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz visited the northern Gaza border region on Saturday and met with military forces operating in the sector. Gantz spoke with infantry and tank unit commanders and examined preparations under way for a possible escalation.
Gantz was accompanied by OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, as well as the commanders of the Planning Branch and C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence) Branch.
Gantz said Hamas bears responsibility for rocket firea, and the IDF is prepared to provide any necessary response to ensure residents of the South can lead routine lives.
“We’ll know how to respond with great force if quiet isn’t returned to the area,” he said.
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