Israel strikes Gaza targets in response to increasing aggression

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The Israeli Air Force struck multiple terror targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including what military officials called “underground infrastructure,” after a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday evening.

The rocket hit an open area in Shaar Hanegev Regional Council and no injuries or damage were reported. The previous day, a rocket fired from Gaza struck a house in Kibbutz Or Ha’ner, with the inhabitants fortunate to escape injury.

A statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said, “Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything that transpires in the Gaza Strip, above and below ground. The IDF will continue to ensure the Israel public’s security by all means at its disposal.”

According to some sources, Monday’s strike targeted at least 10 Hamas sites and followed an airstrike that targeted 18 Hamas sites in Gaza the previous day.

Sunday’s strike was carried out after an explosive device planted by terrorists near the Gaza border wounded four Israeli soldiers on Saturday.

A military official said one of the targets hit by Israel was a terrorist tunnel under the al-Zaytun neighborhood in southwestern Gaza near the Israeli border. Other sites targeted included military compounds, weapon production sites and two observation posts.

Palestinian sources reported that Monday’s strike targeted an open area near the defunct Dahaniya airfield, at the southernmost point in Gaza. One source said more than 10 missiles were fired at that location.

A statement by Hamas said the organization holds Israel responsible for the recent security escalation in the southern sector.

Hazem Kassem, a spokesman for the terrorist group, told Palestinian media that Hamas “has no plans to relinquish its duty to protect the people in Gaza. We will act responsibly to counter any aggression.”

Meanwhile, Amos Kates, whose home in Kibbutz Or Ha’ner sustained a direct rocket hit on Saturday, recounted the tense moments when the rocket struck.

“The children know exactly what to do when the Color Red [alert]sounds. We don’t wait, we run directly to the secure room. Luckily, we had a little more than 15 seconds [to seek shelter]. I had to run to the other side of the house to get my son, who was asleep and run to the secure room. The explosion happened just as we closed the door,” Kates said.

He said it was the first time one of the homes in the kibbutz had sustained a direct hit.

“Unfortunately, my home was the first to be hit. Our kibbutz was spared over the years and I certainly hope this was the first and last rocket to hit us. I can tell you that this will leave its mark on some of the people here. We lived through Operation Protective Edge [in 2014]. Recovering from it is not a matter of days or weeks,” he said.

Kibbutz resident Sharon Shelly, of the Movement for the Future of the Western Negev, said she had endured a similar event in her previous home, in Kibbutz Gevim.

“I personally experienced something similar in the past, when a rocket landed 20 meters [70 feet] from us. This is a very dramatic reality and it’s unthinkable that we have had to live like this for the past 17 years. The area’s residents have simply been abandoned,” she said.

Shelly said she fears the situation will escalate into another war with Gaza.

“The IDF chief of staff spoke about it. The coordinator of government activities in the territories spoke about it. Until the State of Israel accepts responsibility for the safety of the residents of the Western Negev and follow the recommendations of military and intelligence officials, we’ll be in a state of war,” she said.

Or Ha’ner spokesman Nir Ben-Israel said the community was reeling from the incident.

“There’s an ‘aftershock’ after these types of events. We, as a community, try to provide support through social workers and a hotline. You can’t get used to this situation. We want to feel safe,” he said.

Also on Sunday, Shaar Hanegev Regional Council opened the doors of its newly renovated, fortified community resilience center.

The center, renovated at a cost of $500,000, offers counseling to traumatized residents.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which donated funds for the renovation, said, “The situation in the communities next to Gaza requires a great deal of investment in the well-being and resilience of the residents. Yesterday [Saturday] we were again reminded of the complex routine here. We salute the residents for their courage and composure given recent events and we are proud to stand by them in times of peace and war alike.”

Originally posted at Israel Hayom.


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