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.


Iran nuclear deal with six world powers gets parliament approval

Libya rival factions reject UN-proposed peace deal

Al-Nusra Front urges jihadists in Caucasus to target Russia

Wave of violence escalates in Jerusalem

Britain abandons Saudi penal system bid

Jerusalem suffers bloodiest day in wave of rising unrest

Ankara attacks raise Kurdish party's with Erdogan

German anti-Islam protesters demand Merkel resign

Palestinians accuse Israel of seeking ‘third intifada’

'Political coup' in Iraq Kurdistan as Barzani clings to power

Yemen PM meets President amid reports of growing differences

Libya factions reject UN-proposed unity government

Algeria orders closure of private TV over 'subversive' interview

Under Russia air cover, Syria regime fights ‘fiercest clashes’ with rebels

EU asks Russia to ‘cease’ air strikes on moderate rebels in Syria

Russian air force hit 53 targets in Syria in last 24 hours

Egypt court orders release of Mubarak sons

Iraq probing reports IS chief injured in air strike

Kurdish militia, Arab rebels join forces in Syria

Saudi to triple umrah visas

Britain urged to accept more Syrian refugees

Thousands vent their anger against Erdogan

Putin meets Saudi Defence Minister on Syria

Barzani’s party asks opposition members to leave Arbil

Lessons from second intifada: Palestinian leaders seek to keep lid on clashes

Iran issues verdict on Washington Post correspondent

Iran lawmakers give partial nod to nuclear deal

Russia rules out Syria ground operation

Iran ‘successfully’ tests new long-range missile

Is Russia using cluster bombs in Syria?

Iraq air force ‘hits’ convoy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Iran holds funeral for senior commander killed in Syria

Pregnant woman, two-year-old child die in Israel deadly strike on Gaza

Ankara bombings exacerbate climate of mistrust in Turkey

Thousands take to streets to demand departure of Barzani

Qaeda in Yemen executes four on suspicion of sorcery

Egypt agrees to buy two Mistral warships from France

Israel struggles to contain spreading unrest as death toll rises

'Terrorist' attack kills at least 86 people in Ankara

PKK Kurdish rebels declare ‘state of inactivity’

Bashir twists knife in Sudan wound as flawed dialogue kicks off

Syria Assad forces advance with Russia air support

Jordan parliament accuses Israel of 'state terrorism'

World leaders urge Libya rivals to sign long-awaited peace deal

Nobel Peace Prize boosts pluralistic democracy in Tunisia