IDF strikes Hamas terror targets in Gaza; Over 24 hours of rocket fire on southern Israel; Hamas and Islamic Jihad reportedly agree to Egyptian-brokered ceasefire; Netanyahu: We will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary.
The IDF carried out multiple strikes in the Gaza Strip Saturday following dozens of rocket attacks on southern Israel.
Over 190 rockets were fired at Israel from the Strip in less than 24 hours, around 45 of them intercepted by the Iron Dome. Dozens of rockets hit open areas and several hit residential areas in southern Israel. Three were injured after a rocket hit their home in Sderot, a rocket hitting a synagogue shortly after.
Escalation began with Palestinian protests and riots as part of the “The Great March of Return” that broke out on Friday and quickly escalated to terror and rocket attacks from Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. During Friday’s riots, an IDF officer was wounded after he was hit with a grenade thrown by a Palestinian teenager.
The IDF reported on Saturday night that it conducted over 40 strikes throughout Gaza on Hamas training facilities, weapons storage facilities and manufacturing sites, launch sites, terror tunnels and multiple terror targets. The IDF Spokespersons Unit reported that it carried out the “largest wave of daytime strikes since Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014,” confirming it struck more than 40 targets in Gaza “including 2 terror tunnels, 2 large logistic centers, and a Hamas Battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza”.
The IDF posted video footage following its strike on a Hamas training facility and tunnel hidden in the Al-Shati refugee camp. The IDF confirmed “The building was a Hamas training facility. A tunnel was dug under the building and used for underground warfare training. This tunnel is part of a Hamas terror tunnel network.” The IDF notified residents with leaflets and phone calls prior to the strike.
Two Palestinian teenagers were reportedly killed in the strike and over 14 injured.
The IDF warned Saturday night that it will “intensify its strikes in Gaza if deemed necessary, continue to improve the security situation and strengthen the sense of security for the residents of southern Israel.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu held an emergency meeting with Israel’s defense officials Saturday, including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Following his meeting, Netanyahu gave a televised address reporting that “we have decided on strong action against Hamas terrorism. The IDF has struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary.”
Media reports Saturday night claimed that Hamas agreed to an Egyptian mediated ceasefire with Israel. Both representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad met with Egyptian officials as part of talks. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolai Mladinov, also held talks with Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Photo: Peter R Foster IDMA/Shutterstock.com