First Published: 2012-11-11

 

Israel threatens ‘strong blows’ against militants in Gaza

 

Netanyahu warns Israel is ‘prepared to escalate’ its response to Palestinian rocket fire after one of worst flare-ups along its border.

 

Middle East Online

By Jonah Mandel – JERUSALEM

‘World must realise that Israel won't sit by idly’

Israel is "prepared to escalate" its response to Palestinian rocket fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday, after one of the worst flare-ups along its border with Gaza in recent years.

"The army is acting and will act forcefully against the terror organisations in the Gaza Strip. They are receiving strong blows from the army," Netanyahu told ministers at the beginning of his cabinet meeting.

"The world must realise that Israel won't sit by idly in the face of attempts to attack us. We are prepared to escalate our actions," he said.

The flare-up began on Saturday evening when Gaza militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep along the Gaza border, injuring four soldiers, one of them severely. Three remained in hospital on Sunday.

Israel retaliated with airstrikes, shelling and artillery fire that left six Palestinians dead and 32 injured by Sunday morning, and Palestinian militants fired at least 57 rockets into southern Israel.

The latest barrage of rockets, on Sunday morning, hit the Israeli border town of Sderot, injuring four civilians, Israeli police said.

The outbreak of violence was one of the most serious since Israel's devastating 22-day operation in the Gaza Strip over New Year 2009, and raised the spectre of a broad Israeli operation against the Palestinian territory.

"It's a very severe situation, rockets are landing on our towns and villages, almost on a daily basis and of course no democratic country can tolerate such a thing," finance minister and Netanyahu confidant Yuval Steinitz said.

"If this will proceed, we will consider a much stronger and massive retaliation in order to protect our citizens."

The flare-up comes ahead of Israeli elections in January, but ministers said the build-up to the vote would not prevent an operation if it was necessary.

"Israel will have to prepare itself for an operation, whether or not elections (are scheduled)," infrastructure minister Uzi Landau said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting.

On Sunday morning, Palestinian medics said the death toll stood at six, after a militant was killed and two other people wounded in an Israeli air strike near the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya overnight.

The dead man was named as Mohammed Shwikani, a 20-year-old militant with the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the group said.

Early on Sunday, medics reported finding the body of another Islamic Jihad militant, 20-year-old Mohammed Abed, who was killed in another air strike east of Jabaliya.

The Israeli military said it had attacked seven different targets overnight, including arms dumps, a weapons-making facility and two rocket-launching sites "in response to recent events."

Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, said 32 people had been injured, 10 of them requiring amputations. Medics said 10 people were in "serious to critical condition."

Qudra named the four civilians killed as 20-year-old Matar Abul Ata, 17-year-old Mohamed Harara, 15-year-old Ahmed Harara and 18-year-old Ahmed Dardasawy.

The violence prompted authorities on both sides of the border to close some schools, and in Gaza the Hamas government and militant groups vowed revenge.

"The occupation attacked Palestinian civilians east of Gaza City and Khan Yunis. We consider this escalation as very dangerous. It must stop immediately," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum.

The radical Popular Resistance Committees vowed that "the Zionist enemy will pay a high price for this crime against Gaza." And Islamic Jihad warned that "every aggression against the Palestinian people will be followed by a response from the resistance."

Tensions have been rising on the border since Thursday, when an Israeli soldier was wounded after explosives packed into a border tunnel were detonated in an attack claimed by Hamas's armed wing.

Several hours earlier, a 13-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by gunfire from an Israeli helicopter in the same area.

In December 2008, just six weeks before general elections, Israel launched a huge operation in Gaza against rocket fire, which killed 1,400 Palestinians -- half of them civilians -- and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.

 

Arab coalition adopts two-pronged strategy to resolve Yemen conflict

Sudan president reelected with more than 94% of vote

Sudan accuses UNAMID of killing civilians in Darfur

Israel invites tenders for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes

Syrian rock bands finding safety in Lebanon

Journalists face ‘deadliest period’ in recent history

Leading member of Syria ‘tolerated’ opposition escapes to Spain

‘Islamic State’ stones two men to death in Iraq

Coalition strikes continue as bread, medicine run short in Yemen

Guantanamo ex-inmates demand compensation from US

Novelists withdraw from NY gala in Charlie Hebdo protest

Islamist rebels overrun army base in Syria Idlib province

Iraq forces suffer heavy losses in battle of Ramadi

In new provocation, Iran Guards chief likens Saudi Arabia to Israel

Israel charges soldiers for theft in Gaza war

First Saudi National Guards deployed on Yemen border zone

Sudan to unveil election results

Turkey rounds up 350 migrants en route to Europe

Iraq army announces ‘progress’ in Anbar province

Will Somalia Shebab choose Qaeda or Islamic State?

Abbas condemns Israel killing of two young Palestinians in separate incidents

Civilian massacre in Syria northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur

New UN envoy looks to revive talks as battles intensify across Yemen

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation

Turkey warns Austria over decision to condemn ‘Armenian genocide’

Yemen conflict poses dangers across Gulf of Aden

Hopes for final deal on second day of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

Security tightened at Saudi shopping malls

US returns stolen Egypt artifacts

EU mulls military action against human traffickers in Libya

Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi

Arms experts warn of 'Faustian bargain' with Iran