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.

 

Moroccans go to polls for local, regional elections

22 UAE soldiers killed in Yemen

Washington 'monitoring' reports Russian military is in Syria

At least 30 migrants feared drowned off Libya

IS jihadists blow up tower tombs at Syria's Palmyra

Hungary shuts main border crossing

British PM mulls help for Syrian refugees

EU ministers to meet on escalating migrant crisis

Iran submits peace plan to Syria's Assad

Father of drowned Syrian boy tells story of fatal journey

US energy firm gets tough on stalled Israel gas deal

Iran objects to Kuwait linking it to 'terror cell'

Cameron won’t accept more refugees for now

Mideast wars cause 13 million school dropouts

Turkey arrests '4 traffickers' over migrant toddler's death

Egypt sentences dozens of alleged Islamists in mass trial

Netanyahu defiant after Obama secures Iran deal support

Family of drowned child repeatedly displaced in Syria

Erdogan lashes out at EU over Med 'migrant cemetery'

Britain to Cameron: Do more for refugees!

German asylum dream for Iraqis hard to fulfill

Iran’s Basij militia puts on show of strength in Tehran

Death toll in IS Yemen mosque attack rises to 32

UN urges Lebanon parliament to elect president

Syria, Yemen conflicts on Obama-King Salman talks

Suicide bombers hit Shiite mosque in Yemen capital: witnesses

Netanyahu threatens to shoot stone-throwers

David Petraeus: Use Al-Qaeda fighters to battle IS

White House wins enough Senate support for Iran deal

12 Syrian migrants die off Turkish coast

Car bomb kills 10 in Syria regime bastion Latakia

Saudi top cleric slams Iran prophet movie

Iran police to confiscate cars of 'poorly veiled' women

Libya's Tripoli authorities undecided on joining peace talks

Lebanon protesters escalate “You Stink” campaign

Turkey transfers British reporters to new jail

Two Yemeni Red Cross staff killed

Qatar to begin enforcing key labour reform law from November

Syria war takes its toll on heritage riches

US carries out secret drone campaign in Syria

Gunmen kidnap 17 Turks in Iraq capital

Turkey government says it 'had no role' in reporters' arrest

IS claims Tripoli car bomb near oil firm

Dispute with Israel government keeps Christian schools shut

Kuwait charges 24 'linked to Iran' with plotting attacks