Salvo of rockets from Gaza strike southern Israel

Israeli soldiers and civilians stand next to a hole caused by a rocket launched from the Gaza strip, in the Israeli city of Sderot in the southern Negev desert on March 12, 2014. (AFP)

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 130 rockets into southern Israel, the Israeli military said. No immediate casualties were reported.

Israel’s advanced “Iron Dome” defense system intercepted at least three of the rockets, while the others fell in open areas, the military said earlier.

Wednesday’s barrage set off air-raid sirens in border communities of southern Israel.

In Gaza, the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility. It says it fired more than 130 rockets to avenge the deaths of three members killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Police raised the level of alert in the south, saying the rockets struck along the length of Israel’s border with Gaza.

One hit near a public library in the town of Sderot, and another near a petrol station.

With heavy rain hampering the Israeli air force’s ability to conduct air strikes, the military said it had hit “two terror locations” in northern and southern Gaza with artillery fire, but there were no Palestinian reports of injuries, according to AFP.

“We have attacked two sites with artillery, with our tanks on the border with Gaza,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, the chief military spokesman, told journalists

The attack began shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the parliament and prompted a stern warning from the Israeli leader who pledged to act “with great force” against those seeking to harm Israel, a statement from his office said.

“We will continue to strike those who want to harm us; we’ll act against them very forcefully,” he was quoted as saying in a separate statement communicated by his spokesman Ofir Gendelman.

“This is the biggest attack on Israel since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense,” the military said on Twitter, referring to the 2012 confrontation that claimed the lives of 177 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and six Israelis.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would have no choice but to reoccupy Gaza, from which it withdrew all troops and settlers in summer 2005.

“Following an attack like this -- a barrage of more than 50 rockets -- there is no alternative to a full reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip,” he told private Channel 2 television.

In Gaza, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing the Al-Quds Brigades issued a statement claiming to have fired “70 rockets” at Israel.

It said its bombardment would continue in response to Israel’s “aggression” in Tuesday’s air strike.

Hamas warned Israel against escalating the confrontation.

“We hold the occupation responsible, we warn of the consequences of any escalation and we reiterate that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself,” said Ihab al-Ghassin, a spokesman for the Islamist movement Hamas, which governs Gaza.

 

[With Agencies]

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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