Nine members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations were killed overnight Sunday following an Israeli air strike on 14 targets in the Gaza Strip. The strikes come in response to a constant barrage of rocket fire on Israel throughout the day. Some 25 rockets were shot into Israel over the course of Sunday.
The IDF confirmed direct hits on each of the targets, including “terror sites and concealed rocket launchers,” the IDF spokesman’s office stated.
“At least 25 times today [Sunday] Gaza militants put Israeli lives in direct risk from their rocket attacks,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner stated.
“This reality is unbearable and unacceptable. We will continue to act in order to debilitate and incapacitate the Hamas terror infrastructure striking its warehouses, rocket manufacturing capabilities and those that endanger the wellbeing of the Israelis in the south of the country,” Lerner added.
According to a statement by Hamas, the ruling terror organization in Gaza, seven of its members will killed in the IAF strike and six others wounded. Army Radio reported that the terrorists were killed when a tunnel, used by the terrorists to carry out terror attacks, collapsed on top of them.
Earlier in the evening, two members of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad were killed when Israeli planes struck a rocket launching crew operating in central Gaza. The IDF said in a statement that it had prevented a rocket attack “by targeting terrorists.” A direct hit was confirmed.
In response to the deaths of the terrorists, Hamas has threatened Israel that it would retaliate. “This is a serious escalation, and the enemy will pay the price,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his Facebook page.
Early Monday morning, terrorists in Gaza launched rockets into southern Israel once again, sending thousands of civilians running for bomb shelters. Two rockets were launched into the Eshkol Regional Council area.
Channel 10 reported that one of the rockets was a Kassam which exploded in a local community. Shrapnel from the rocket lightly injured an IDF soldier, leaving shrapnel in his back and legs, Yedioth Aharonoth reported. The soldier was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.
In an unprecedented attack since 2012, a Grad rocket landed right outside Be’er Sheva, landing the farthest into Israeli territory since terrorists in the Strip have begun to launch rockets into Israel over the last several months.
In a second attack, Gaza terrorists opened fire on IDF forces stationed bear the security fence by Kibbutz Re’im. Reports indicate that terrorists opened fire using a rocket propelled grenade (RPG). Soldiers also came under small arms fire.
“An IDF patrol was attacked along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement. “Initial indications suggest they were attacked with an RPG anti-tank missile and firearms. No injuries are currently reported.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas to stop the rocket fire. The cease-fire, which was brokered by Egypt and issued Thursday evening, was ignored completely by Hamas.
The prime minister has stated that for the time being, Israel would engage in a wide-scale operation in Gaza.
“Experience has proved that at moment like this, we have to act responsibly and with a cool head and not with harsh words and impetuousness,” Netanyahu stated. “We will do everything in our power to restore peace and security to the south.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Hamas head Khaled Mashaal over the weekend to take immediate steps to stop the rocket attacks against Israel in an attempt to quiet down hostilities between Israel and terrorists in Gaza.
Arab media reported that Abbas told Mashaal that the rocket attacks only provide Israel with “an excuse” to take military action in the Strip.
Since last Wednesday, terrorists operating out of Gaza have shot a total of 110 rockets into Israel, with an additional 40 on Sunday.