IDF blames Hamas for rocket strike; reservists called up as troops deployed to Gaza border
'The rocket fire was carried out by Hamas from a Hamas position,' army says after 7 hurt in direct hit on family home in Sharon region; Iron Dome and intelligence reservists summoned as infantry and armored troops moved to edge of Strip; Hamas apparently goes underground
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday accused Hamas of carrying out a pre-dawn rocket strike from the Gaza Strip, and said troop reinforcements - including reservist soldiers - were being deployed to the Gaza border.
The rocket strike, which came a little after 5am, directly hit a family home on Moshav Mishmeret in the center of the country. Seven people were wounded and the house was decimated. Four family dogs were killed in the attack.
In wake of the rocket strike, infantry and armored troops were being deployed to the south. In addition, reservists from Iron Dome and intelligence units were also called up to service in what the army said was a "specific" deployment.
Following the strike, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a series of situation assessments with the head of the Shin Bet security service, the GOC Southern Command, and other defense officials.
Anticipating a strong Israeli response, Gaza's Hamas leaders apparently went underground. Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating its personnel from government premises. Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yahiya Sinwar, had cancelled a scheduled public speech. Israel also shut down its main crossings into Gaza and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gazan coast.
IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis told a press briefing Monday morning that the rocket was fired from the Rafah area of southern Gaza - a range of 120 kilometers. According to the IDF, the rocket that struck the home is a self-manufactured Hamas rocket.
"The rocket fire was carried out by Hamas from a Hamas position. We see Hamas as being responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip," the army said. The terror organization seized power in Gaza in 2007, and have ruled the Strip ever since.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his current trip to the United States due to the attack, planning to return Monday after his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House.
"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," Netanyahu said after the strike.
"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 action from close at hand."
Asked why the rocket was not intercepted by Israel's revolutionary Iron Dome defense system, Manelis said that, "Iron Dome protects the areas in which it is stationed, according to operational situation assessments."
After the previous rocket strike on the Dan region on March 14, the IDF said that the attack was "mistakenly" carried out by Hamas. On Monday, the IDF Spokesperson declined to address the question of whether the latest strike was also a mistake.
"The IDF is improving its readiness for a variety of scenarios," Manelis said. "This is a serious incident of a direct hit on a house in central Israel and follows a series of incidents. The deployment is also offensive, not just reactive."
The army also noted, however, that there are currently no changes in the guidelines for the home front.