Gaza rocket destroys home in central Israel, 7 wounded
Two women were moderately hurt and five others, including an infant, lightly wounded after a rocket fired by Gaza militants struck a residential house in a community northeast of Tel Aviv; Netanyahu cuts his Washington trip short in light of the rocket attack
The rocket attack destroyed a residential home in the community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of the family. The Magen David Adom rescue service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.
The sounds of air raid sirens jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, from their sleep shortly after 5am, sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed. The Israeli military said it identified the rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.
The rocket smashed through the roof of the house and exploded on the floor, creating a crater in the ground and sending the shrapnel flying through all areas of the house. The rocket is currently stuck in the ground and efforts were being made by the security forces to extract it.
The strike left a family home in Mishmeret in ruins, tiles and debris scattered all about. Four family dogs were killed in the explosion.
The attack comes 10 days after rockets were fired toward Israel’s densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv. The Israeli military at the time struck back in Gaza and the sides appeared to be hurtling toward another confrontation. But Gaza’s Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidently and calm was quickly restored.
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility to Monday’s attack, it comes just hours after several Hamas prisoners stabbed two guards at Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, moderately wounding one of them. In an attempt to restrain the prisoners, at least 11 of the incarcerated were wounded, two critically. Following the incident, Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group issued a threat, warning Israel of “consequences for its aggression that will be felt by soldiers and citizens.”
The outburst comes at a sensitive time for both sides. Israel is holding national elections in 15 days. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in a tight fight for re-election and could face heavy criticism from his opponents if he is seen as ineffective against the militants.
Netanyahu, who is currently in Washington and set to meet later in the day with President Donald Trump, announced his intention to cut the visit short in light of the "criminal" rocket fire.
"I concluded a telephone consultation with the IDF chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet and the head of the National Security Council. There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully," the prime minister said. "In light of the security events I have decided to cut short my visit to the US. In a few hours I will meet with President Trump; I will return to Israel immediately afterwards in order to manage our actions from close at hand."
His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, called on him to return home immediately to deal with the crisis.
“The reality in which Hamas turned Israel into a hostage is unprecedented and unfathomable,” he wrote on Twitter. “Netanyahu has to pack up now and return to Israel to handle this serious escalation.”
In Gaza, Hamas has come under rare public criticism for the harsh conditions in the territory. An Israel-Egyptian blockade, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority and mismanagement by the Hamas government have fueled an economic crisis in the territory. Residents have little desire for another war with Israel.