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South Under Fire

The Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Beersheba Photo: Naty Edri
The Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Beersheba Photo: Naty Edri
 
 

IDF chief: We'll respond with force if calm is not restored

IAF attacks terror targets at in the Gaza Strip in three separate attacks, hitting rocket launcher and terrorist preparing to fire at Israel; rockets continue raining down on south; Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Beersheba.

Mati Siber, Yoav Zitun
Latest Update: 07.05.14, 22:01 / Israel News

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz held a situation assessment on Saturday night following the escalation in the south, and toured the border area on the northern Gaza Strip to examine troops readiness.

 

 

During his visit he met with commanders from the infantry and armored corps. Gantz was accompanied by the OC Southern Command, the head of the Planning Directorate and the head of the Computer Service Directorate.

 

"Hamas is responsible for the continuous rocket fire from the Gaza Strip," Gantz said. "IDF forces are prepared to respond to any scenario in order to allow the residents of the south to continue with their daily lives. We will respond with force if the calm is not restored."

 

The Israel Air Force has conducted three strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening, hitting the rocket launcher that fired at Ofakim earlier in the day, and a terrorist preparing to launch more rockets at Israel. Two Palestinian policemen were hurt in one of the air strikes, Gaza hospital officials said.

 

Rockets continued raining down at southern Israel on Saturday night, with one rocket fired at Beersheba being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. This was the first time since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense that the Negev's capital was targeted by Gaza terrorists.

 

The Iron Dome also intercepted three rockets over the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, after the Code Red rocket alert siren was sounded both there and in the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council. Two mortar shells fell in the Eshkol Regional Council, but the Code Red siren was not sounded. Another rocket hit Sha'ar HaNegev.

 

The Ashdod municipality decided to cancel any educational activity on Sunday held in structures that do not have shelters or safe rooms.

 

Earlier Saturday, two rockets and four mortar shells exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council and one IDF soldier sustained light injuries from shrapnel. The soldier was evacuated to the hospital for further treatment.

 

In addition, a Color Red rocket alert sounded in Ofakim and the Merhavim Regional Council in south Israel, and shortly after a volley of rockets was fired towards Ofakim, a city relatively distant from the Gaza Strip. 

 

The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system shot down one of the incoming rockets, and the other two exploded in open areas. Half an hour later, a Color Red siren was sounded in Eshkol and Hof Ashkelon Regional Councils.

  

Before Saturday evening's attacks, the IDF refrained from responding throughout the night Friday and most of the day Saturday. The last attack carried out by the Israeli Air Force took place at 8pm on Friday, when the IDF Spokesperson Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner confirmed that three targets had been struck in the south of the Gaza Strip, in response to over 20 rockets fired on Israel from Gaza on Friday.

 

Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich criticized Israel's "no response" policy on Friday.

 

"There are no two states here and definitely there aren't two types of populations. A sovereign state must maintain its deterrence and defend its citizens, all of its citizens, everywhere. It can't be that our response will only come following rockets fired at Beersheba, Ashdod or Tel Aviv. Terrorists firing towards Sderot and other communities on the Gaza border is serious. This is a red line we must not cross and mustn't ignore," the mayor said in his statement.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported two or three rockets were fired at Beersheba.

 

First Published: 07.05.14, 19:24

 

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