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Hamas Escalation: Rocket Destroys Home in Central Israel, IDF Deploys Troops Near Gaza

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a residential building in central Israel early Monday morning. According to the IDF, the launch was carried out from a Hamas installation in the Rafah area in southern Gaza. The attack left seven injured, including two infants, The Times of Israel reported.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza,” said IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis. The rocket was the farthest-reaching projectile from the enclave since the 2014 Gaza war, during which projectiles reached as far north as the city of Haifa.

Manelis did not address claims by Hamas – the terrorist group which exercises complete political and military control over Gaza – that the projectile was launched “by accident.” Israeli officials believe that Hamas ordered the attack to test Israeli responses during the election campaign.

Those injured in the attack were all members of the Wolf family, who lived in two housing units connected by a hallway. The Daily Telegraph reported that the family members are British nationals. “Robert and Susan Wolf, originally from London, were with their children and grandchildren when the rocket struck,” the paper’s Middle East correspondent, Raf Sanchez, said on Twitter.

“If we hadn’t got to the bomb shelter in time I would be burying all my family,” Robert Wolf said, standing outside the wreckage of the family home.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday he would cut short his trip to the United States and vowed that Israel “will respond forcefully.” Netanyahu is expected to stay in Washington just long enough to meet U.S. President Donald Trump “and immediately afterward return to Israel to oversee our response first-hand.”

A military spokeswoman told the Associated Press that two brigades were being deployed to the Gaza border and that Israel had instituted a limited call-up of reserve soldiers.

Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. envoy leading efforts to reopen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, took to Twitter to slam Hamas for the latest escalation. “Again an attack on Israel from Gaza. Again a rocket fired at a major metro area in Israel, which hit a home causing its collapse & injuring 6. We condemn this violence from Gaza & affirm Israel’s right to defend itself,” Greenblatt said.

The UN envoy for Middle East Peace, Nickolay Mladenov, condemned the rocket fire from Gaza as “absolutely unacceptable” and an “extremely serious incident.” In a tweet on Monday, Mladenov said the UN is working with Israel, the Palestinians, and Egypt to deescalate the situation.

Emanuele Giaufret, the EU’s ambassador to Israel, posted a tweet, saying that he was “following with grave concern developments after a family home was destroyed in Moshav Mishmeret in central Israel by a rocket from Gaza. Wishing early recovery to those wounded. Indiscriminate targeting of civilians unacceptable.”

The latest escalation by Hamas comes at a time that Gazans are protesting the terrorist group’s misrule of the territory. Hamas, according to reports,  has targeted over 70 journalists, subjecting them to beatings and arrests.

This is the second time in two weeks that Hamas has fired rockets into central Israel. Ten days ago, two rockets were fired into Tel Aviv. At the time, the IDF assessed that rockets were fired as the result of a technical error.

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Twitter ]