Published: Sun, July 15, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Netanyahu: ‘IDF struck Hamas with hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge’

Netanyahu: ‘IDF struck Hamas with hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge’

"There are three factors occurring that we view seriously and can not allow to continue", he said, adding that this was the largest daytime Israeli strike on Gaza since the 2014 Gaza War.

Israeli officials said a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a home in Sderot, injuring a 17-year-old girl, a 20-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man.

Most of the recent rockets from Gaza have been fired by smaller factions but Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was an "immediate response" that was meant to "deliver the message".

The surge in violence followed mounting public criticism of Netanyahu over failure to counter a new Palestinian tactic: incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza that have burned crops and scrubland in southern Israel.

The Israeli military said on Saturday it struck several militant sites in Gaza in response to renewed violence along the border.

There were no reports of casualties on either side but the exchange threatened to spark a further conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border.

Israel said around 100 rockets and mortars were fired, mostly mortars.

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike, while three Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home.

A 15-year-old Palestinian was shot dead as he tried to climb over the fence into Israel.

Earlier in the day, during the weekly Great March of Return protest, an IDF officer was moderately injured by a grenade thrown from the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered near the Gaza border for their near-weekly protest.

"We are talking about the biggest offensive strikes since Protective Edge", Brigadier General Tzvika Haimovic told journalists, referring to Israel's name for its 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations' Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov was in Gaza and "working with all concerned parties to de-escalate the situation", a UN official said on condition of anonymity.

"In consultation with the minister of defence, the chief of staff and the top security command of the state of Israel, we have decided on strong action against Hamas terrorism", Mr Netanyahu said in a video statement.

Molotov cocktails, flaming tyres and stones were also hurled in the direction of its soldiers, according to the Israeli army. The tiny territory has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas, considered a terrorist group by much of the West, wrested power in 2007.

The IDF has sought to avoid an escalation of hostilities on the southern front despite the attacks, but according to the Haaretz daily, the political pressure to act has been building as the economic and psychological harm caused by the fires takes its toll.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the latest Israeli sortie, the third of the day, struck some 40 Hamas targets including tunnels, logistical centers and a Hamas battalion headquarters.

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