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.


Turkey and the Islamic State

Al-Nusra Front frees Lebanese hostages in swap deal

US over-reliance on Kurds in anti-ISIS fight carries many risks

Yemen President reshuffles cabinet ‘to smooth differences’ with PM

Despite huge global pressure, labour exploitation continues in Qatar

Global warming could deprive planet of oxygen

US Special Ops will be deployed to fight IS jihadists in Iraq

Egypt arrests (another) prominent journalist

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians after alleged stabbing attacks

Putin accuses Turkey of protecting ISIS oil exports

Syrians reach deal for exit of rebels from last Homs district

Israeli advert accused of racism

Shelling from Yemen kills another Saudi border guard

Qaeda warns Saudi Arabia against executing jihadists

Iran denies any links to alleged terror plot in Kenya

Tunisia shortens curfew imposed in capital

German cabinet approves assistance to fight ISIS

Britain looks poised to join Syria air strikes

Mixed verdict by Israeli court for settlers who burned Palestinian teen alive

UAE says ready to commit ground troops in Syria

Iran pilgrims break through Iraq border fence

Syria regime denies chemical weapons use

Erdogan: Turkey will not apologise to Russia

3 Saudi soldiers killed on Yemen border

Syrians negotiate rebel exit from Homs

Frustration grows as Tunisia keeps border shut over deadly blast

France says cooperation with Syria not possible under Assad regime

Iran: Saudi plan for Syria ignores Vienna agreements

Iraq PM says country has sufficient forces to fight IS

Kuwait names new acting Oil Minister in cabinet reshuffle

Number of ISIS executions hits more than 3,500 in Syria alone

‘Russia’ air strikes kill at least 18 civilians in Ariha town in Syria

EU offers Turkey cash, closer ties at migration summit

Saudi women begin first-ever campaigns for public office

Bashir takes another step on path of rapprochement with Gulf countries

Iran wants closure of nuclear probe in order to implement deal

Iran General ‘seriously wounded’ in rocket attack in Syria

Turkey seeks to ease tensions with Moscow

Turkey protests against journalist arrests

Corbyn criticised over Syria air strike rejection

Saudi women begin first-ever election campaign

Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS