Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas on Thursday as terrorists in the Gaza Strip continue to attack Israel with rocket fire.
Netanyahu said that he sees the situation with Gaza going one of two ways. “One possibility is that the fire will stop and the quiet continues,” he said.
“The other is that the fire continues and then the increased forces that are in the south will act forcefully. The safety of our citizens is first and foremost,” the prime minister declared.
An official ultimatum was reportedly sent to Hamas via Egyptian intelligence. In the ultimatum, Israel told Hamas to immediately stop the incessant rocket fire or face a large scale Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday evening, terrorists operating in Gaza fired some 15 rockets towards Israel. The barrage of rockets on residents in Israel’s south came after 40 other rocket attacks since Wednesday. On Thursday morning, a Kassam rocket hit a children’s summer camp in Sderot, minutes before children were set to arrive.
An hour before terrorists began their continued onslaught of rocket fire on Thursday evening, Hamas announced that Israel would “be surprised” at the increased capabilities of the Gaza-based terror group.
“We promise that one stupid move your leaders make will constitute sufficient ground to turn all of your towns, even those you wouldn’t expect, into targets and burning cinders,” said Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.
The spokesman threatened that while Israel may begin the escalation with Hamas, “it doesn’t know how it will continue and how it will end.”
“The threats the occupiers issue, and the allusions to war against Gaza,are threats that have no meaning in our dictionaries, other than drawing the hour of vengeance and difficult lesson-learning closer,” Ubaida added.
The IDF ordered ground troops on Thursday to station themselves closer to the Gaza border in what Israel is describing as a defensive tactic. “We want to deescalate the situation and restore calm,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
As of early Friday morning, Israelis in the south continue to live under fear of a rocket attack. Red Alert sirens in Sderot, the Eshkol region, Sdot Negev and Shaar Hanegev Regional council went off, warning of an incoming rocket attack.
Five rockets were launched towards Israel. One landed in Palestinian territory and another rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense system.