נפילה של רקטה בגן שעשועים בשדרות
A children's playground is hit in a rocket strike on Sderot
Photo: Reuters
A children's playground is hit in a rocket strike on Sderot

Heavy rocket barrages directed at southern Israel in fresh Gaza bout

Man lightly injured while running to bomb shelter; IDF strikes targets in Strip in response; Netanyahu threatens Hamas with 'war' if rocket fire does not abate

Ynet |
Published: 02.24.20 , 17:41
Heavy rocket barrages were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon, as an escalation in violence with the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad continued for a second day.
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  • Six rockets were fired in the first wave that began at around noon. The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted five rockets over Sderot and Kibbutz Nir Am.
    (A children's playground is hit in a rocket strike on Sderot (Video: Dvir Sasi))

    Less than half an hour later, sirens sounded in Netiv Ha'Asara and Hof Ashkelon regional council, and a second wave of eight rockets was fired from Gaza. Two of the rockets hit a children's playground and the yard of a home in Sderot.
    נפילה של רקטה בגן שעשועים בשדרותנפילה של רקטה בגן שעשועים בשדרות
    A children's playground is hit in a rocket strike on Sderot
    (Photo: Reuters)
    A 55-year-old man was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon after he fell while running to a bomb shelter and sustained a facial injury. The hospital said the man's condition was stable and was undergoing examination.
    At least one person was treated for shock in Sderot.
    The IDF struck Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza in response.
    IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Israeli aircraft struck and eliminated a site used by the Islamic Jihad to launch rockets.
    The Prime Minister's Office said that Benjamin Netanyahu was conducting a security consultation by phone with defense officials following the rocket attacks. It said that Netanyahu also spoke with the mayors of Sderot and Ashkelon to update them on the situation.
    נפילה של רקטה בחצר ביתנפילה של רקטה בחצר בית
    A rocket lands in the yard of a home in Sderot
    (Photo: Sderot Municipality)
    Netanyahu also threatened Gaza's Hamas rulers with a "war" on Monday afternoon if the new round of rocket fire continued, ramping up his rhetoric amid the final stretch of his campaign ahead of the March 2 elections.
    Speaking to Army Radio, Netanyahu said he'd conveyed a message to Hamas that if it did not stop Gaza militants behind the attacks, Israel would target Hamas directly.
    "If you don't shoot them, we will shoot you. I'm talking about a war," he said. "I only go to war as a last option but we have prepared something you can't even imagine."
    Netanyahu's interview was interrupted with news of fresh air raid sirens warning of incoming rockets, as Palestinian militant fire resumed midday after a morning lull.
    Defense Minister Naftali Bennett warned earlier Monday that Israel was on the cusp of action "to fundamentally change the situation in the Gaza Strip," the Times of Israel reported.
    “We are preparing a plan to fundamentally change the situation in the Gaza Strip,” Bennett told a conference in Jerusalem.
    “I really understand the situation of the people of the south," Bennett said. "They deserve peace and security.”
    יירוטים כיפת ברזל ירי רקטות מ עזהיירוטים כיפת ברזל ירי רקטות מ עזה
    Iron Dome missile defense system in operation over Sderot
    (Photo: Matanel David)
    Meanwhile, Netanyahu said that the proximity of next week's elections would not deter him from taking action to protect Israeli citizens.
    Netanyahu told Radio Jerusalem that he would "not compromise Israel’s security for political reasons."
    ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בהערכת מצב בקריה ונפתלי בנטראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בהערכת מצב בקריה ונפתלי בנט
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett attend a security meeting in Tel Aviv on Sunday night
    (Photo: Defense Ministry)
    According to Netanyahu, “War is a last resort, but there may be no escape from it.
    “If Israel is in the position of entering a large-scale military operation, we will have to deal a bigger blow than [the three Gaza wars of the past 12 years]. It could very well be that we may have to carry out — I don’t really want to say it, but — ‘the mother of all operations.'”
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over AshkelonIron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over Ashkelon
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza over Ashkelon on Sunday night
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The Monday rocket barrage came just hours after Israeli warplanes on Sunday night struck Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza and Syria, reportedly killing six people. Islamic Jihad threatened retaliation.
    The IAF airstrikes followed two waves of rocket attacks from Gaza on Sunday, which themselves came after the IDF killed at least one Palestinian trying to lay a bomb on Gaza's border fence with Israel.
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