A rocket launched from Gaza, which is dominated politically and militarily by the terrorist group Hamas, struck a house in Beersheba at 4 in the morning Wednesday. According to news reports, a mother who was awakened by sirens woke her children and brought them to a bomb shelter before the rocket hit. A second rocket from Gaza landed in the Gush Dan area, near Tel Aviv. There was no reported damage from the second strike.
In response to the rocket, the IDF carried out attacks on 20 sites associated with Hamas and other terror groups based in Gaza.
Hamas, and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is the second largest terrorist group in Gaza, said that they were not responsible for the rocket attack, calling the attack “irresponsible” for upsetting negotiations being conducted by Egypt.
Following the rocket attack, Netanyahu met with top security officials including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Shin Bet security service chief Nadav Argaman. Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot reportedly cut short a trip to the United States following the escalation.
“Israel views with utmost gravity the attacks against it on the fence, on the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, on Beersheba — everywhere. I said at the start of the cabinet meeting this week that if the attacks don’t end, we’ll end them,” Netanyahu said from the IDF’s Gaza Division Headquarters.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is a member of the security cabinet, told Israel Radio, “We must aggressively respond with force to the rocket strike on Beersheba, but there is a difference between that and being drawn into a full campaign in Gaza.”
Both Egypt and the United Nations have reportedly tried to calm tensions after the rocket attack, which came in the wake of recent warnings from Israeli leaders that Israel would have to respond more forcefully to near-daily riots, attacks on the border fence, and the continued launching of incendiary balloons into its territory.
Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan said that Israel could place an Iron Dome battery near Beersheba as early as Wednesday evening.
At the beginning of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that if Hamas “[does] not stop the violent attacks against us, they will be stopped in a different way and it will be painful – very painful.”
[Photo: The Israel Project / YouTube ]