The Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted airstrikes against targets in Gaza on Sunday night after another rocket was fired at Israel’s south from the Palestinian side of the border, the military said.
On Sunday night, incoming rocket sirens sent thousands of Israelis once again rushing to bomb shelters in the southern town of Sderot and the surrounding area. IDF radar stations identified the rocket launch from Gaza. However, the projectile reportedly hit an open field and there were no reports of injuries or damage.
The IDF said that they used fighter planes and other aircraft to target a number of facilities used by Hamas, including “a training camp area and other military infrastructure.” According to Palestinian reports, the IAF targeted sites including one along the beach near Khan Younis in southern Gaza and a Hamas base in Deir el Balah in central Gaza.
Balloons with bombs attached found in Israel (Twitter).
Most believe that the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and the West Bank was the result of the release last week of President Trump’s U.S. peace plan that is seen in Gaza as heavily favoring Israel. Palestinian leaders rejected the plan, even before it was released.
Most Israeli defense officials believe that the Hamas terror group is trying to leverage pressure on Israel in a bid to extract greater concessions in the ongoing ceasefire negotiations. An Egyptian security delegation arrived early on Monday morning in Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders and other Palestinians in an attempt to diffuse the situation before it inflames further.
If the Hamas leaders are trying to exert pressure on Israel through the threat of violence, the Israeli leaders were firing right back. Earlier on Sunday, many Israeli politicians threatened massive retaliation and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will deal a “crushing blow” if attacks and aggression from Gaza continue.
“I want to make this clear: We won’t accept any aggression from Gaza. Just a few weeks ago, we took out the top commander of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and I suggest that Islamic Jihad and Hamas refresh their memories,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday.
“I won’t lay out in detail all our actions and plans in the media, but we’re prepared for crushing action against the terror groups in Gaza. Our actions are powerful, and they’re not finished yet, to put it mildly,” Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett also didn’t mince his words warning Hamas leaders in Gaza that Israel would take “lethal action against them” if their “irresponsible behavior” didn’t cease.
“We won’t announce when or where. This action will be very different from [that] taken in the past. No one will be immune. Hamas faces a choice: choose life and economic prosperity, or choose terror and pay an unbearable price. Their actions will determine [which it will be],” he said.
On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said that the military would take a tougher stance against the airborne attacks and other terrorist activities.
Hamas has been launching rocket and mortar attacks from the Strip almost daily during the past few weeks. It has also targeted children as terrorists from Hamas have launched dozens of bright balloon-borne explosives and incendiary devices into southern Israel from Gaza. This practice began two years ago and its use was cut back for a while, but it has been used more and more in recent weeks.
On Saturday, a suspected explosive device attached to a cluster of balloons, which was apparently launched from Gaza, was found in a field in the Merhavim Regional Council. A group of foreign workers, who were reportedly not aware that the object could be a bomb, picked up the balloons, but the device luckily did not explode
The Egyptian delegation certainly has its work cut out for them, as it appears that neither side is willing to give an inch.