Netanyahu vows 'massive strikes'

06 May 2019 | International

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed yesterday to continue “massive strikes” in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip as a deadly escalation entered a second day, sparking fears of wider violence.

Gazan authorities reported six Palestinians killed, including at least two militants, by Israeli strikes in the latest round of fighting that began Saturday as militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

But Israel disputed their account of the deaths of a pregnant mother and her baby, blaming errant Hamas fire. One 58-year-old Israeli man was killed overnight by a rocket strike on the city of Ashkelon near the Gaza border, Israeli police and medics said.

“I instructed the (military) this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

He said he had also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza. The flare-up came as Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the blockaded enclave, sought further concessions from Israel under a fragile months-old ceasefire.

Israel said its strikes were in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing 450 rockets or mortars across the border since Saturday, with Israeli air defences intercepting more than 150.

In addition to the Israeli man killed, an 80-year-old woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, police and medics said.

A man was also hospitalised in Ashkelon, said police, citing other injuries without providing details. A house near Ashkelon was damaged and other rockets hit open areas. The Israeli army said its tanks and planes hit some 220 militant targets in Gaza in response.

They included an Islamic Jihad attack tunnel that stretched from southern Gaza into Israeli territory, it said. Two multi-storey buildings in Gaza City were also destroyed.

Israel said one of the buildings included Hamas military intelligence and security offices. Turkey said its state news agency Anadolu had an office in the building, and strongly denounced the strike.

Israel said the other building housed Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices. The Gaza health ministry said Israeli strikes killed a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother, 37, as well as four Palestinian men.

But Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said that based on intelligence “we are now confident” that the deaths of the mother and baby were not due to an Israeli strike.







NAMPA/AFP