Israel prepares for ‘escalation’ amid exchange of rocket fire
Watch above: With more Israeli troops arriving near the border with Gaza, there are fears an already tense situation could spiral out of control. Stuart Greer reports.
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip increased drastically on Monday as the Israeli military ramped up its presence along the border with the Palestinian territory in the wake of enraged violence following retaliatory murders of teens on both sides, and an alleged prison beating by Israeli authorities of a 16 -year-old Palestinian-American.
Hamas reportedly fired more than 85 rockets at targets in Israel—including at the cities of Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon in the south and as far north as Nes Ziona.
BELOW: Map of rocket warnings, strikes and interceptions on Monday
Source: Haaretz and The Times of Israel
In a one-hour span, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m, Hamas fired 40 rockets towards Israel, Israeli news agency Haaretz reported. Israel claimed to have stopped 12 rockets with its Iron Dome defence system, according to the Jerusalem Post.
BELOW: Video reportedly showing the Iron Dome intercepting rockets over Netviot
The Israeli Defence Force launched aistrikes of its own, hitting “concealed rocket launchers and other centers of terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip,” Haaretz reported. Israeli attacks on targets in the Gaza Strip reportedly killed nine members of Hamas’ military wing, known as the al-Qassam Brigades, on Monday. Hamas promised Israel “will pay a tremendous price.”
The Israeli military has called in 1,500 reservists.
“We are ready for escalation,” the Jerusalem Post quoted an unnamed IDF source saying.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the June 12 kidnapping and killings of three Israeli teens from a West Bank settlement; for more than two weeks, Israeli authorities have conducted of sweeps of Palestinian communities and made hundreds of arrests in the hunt for those responsible. But they haven’t arrested their two main suspects.
Meanwhile, three of the six right-wing Jewish extremists arrested Sunday in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir have confessed. The 16-year-old Palestinian’s charred body was found in a forest barely a day after the three Israeli teens’ funeral; he was burned alive, according to preliminary autopsy results.
Israeli planes dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip Monday warning Palestinians to take cover and that Hamas’ construction of tunnels to smuggle ammunition would put their lives at risk, Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.
“Do not stand still. You are being used by terrorists who will not be by your side when you get hurt. Take responsibility for your future.”
Meantime, Hamas issued its own warning message to Israelis in a video posted on YouTube. “To the settlers of [Be’er Sheva], your leaders have killed our children, bombed our homes, and sentenced you to death. Run before it’s too late,” the Hebrew message said, according to The Times of Israel.
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