09 augustus 2018

Netanyahu, Liberman convene military brass as Gaza tensions flare

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (L) attends a briefing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) in response to the escalation of tensions along the northern border on February 10, 2018. (Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet with the defense minister and Israel’s top military brass overnight for urgent discussions after over 70 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip Wednesday night and into Thursday, injuring three people in Israel’s south.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had already met earlier with the security chiefs to discuss the situation. Shortly afterward the Israeli military bombed 12 Hamas positions across Gaza, the military said.

Netanyahu will meet with Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman and Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of the National Security Council at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The meeting comes after Gazan terrorists fired wave after wave of rockets at Israel, hours after an exchange of fire between the military and the Hamas terrorist group along the Gaza border.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was avenging the deaths of two operatives killed in an Israeli strike Tuesday — a strike that came in response to what the IDF initially identified as a shooting attack on its forces, but which was apparently an internal Hamas exercise.

“In response to Israel aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy,” a statement by the group said. “There was a promise [to respond] and now it has been fulfilled.”

A 34-year-old man was lightly-to-moderately wounded in one rocket attack by shards of broken glass, while inside an apartment building in Sderot, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Another man in his 20s was also lightly wounded by glass shrapnel in a different area of the town. They were both taken to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center for treatment.

In addition, at least eight people were treated for panic attacks, including two pregnant women who went into labor, MDA said.

Shrapnel covers the outside wall of an apartment building in the southern city of Sderot after a rocket that was launched from Gaza struck nearby on August 8, 2018. (Courtesy)

Earlier in the day, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas after two members of the terror group were killed in an IDF strike on Tuesday.

Damage to a construction vehicle outside the Gaza Strip, which the military says was caused by gunfire from the Palestinian enclave, on August 8, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The rocket fire represented a major uptick in tensions along the border, amid intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire. Such an agreement is meant to end not only rocket launches and shootings from Gaza but also the regular incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Palestinian enclave that have burned large swaths of land in southern Israel and caused millions of shekels of damage.

In addition, throughout Wednesday, at least 11 fires were sparked in southern Israel by airborne arson devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Israeli firefighters extinguished all of them, according to a spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services.

Earlier in the day, the military closed off a highway in southern Israel on Wednesday out of concerns that Hamas might open fire at Israeli vehicles.