For the first time in several years Israel deploys reservists and military to the Gaza border after a home attacked in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu cuts short U.S. trip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is blaming Hamas for a rocket attack on a home near Tel Aviv that injured seven people Monday. The explosion has prompted the prime minister to close the important Gaza Strip crossings at Erez and Kerem Shalom and to call on military reservists for the first time in years after the “heinous attack on the State of Israel,” declared the Israeli leader.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, told Al Arabiya TV that the rocket was launched on accident, activated by heavy rains and lightning over the Palestinian enclave throughout the night, reports EFE. However, Reuters says that no group claimed the bombing.
"The rocket reached more than 120 km from the enclave. It's a homemade Hamas rocket, Hamas launched this rocket. We see Hamas as being responsible for everything that goes on inside the enclave," insisted Israeli Army spokeswoman Mika Lifshitz in a statement.
Tensions between Gaza and Israel have been running higher than unusual since March 14 when two rockets were launched into Tel Aviv causing no damage or injury. No group took responsibility for the attack but Israel responded by sending over 100 bombs onto military targets within the strip since that time.
March also marks the anniversary of an intensified Great March of the Return over the past year that has seen nearly 200 Palestinians killed at the Gaza border by Israeli troops. Most recently, 24-year-old Habeeb al-Masri died from bullet wounds to the chest Sunday morning after being shot at by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He and hundreds of other protesters continue to demand Israel’s removal of the Gaza blockade and the disoccupation of Palestinian land.
A recent United Nations Human Rights Council report verified that Israeli security forces are target killing Palestinian demonstrators and even medical professionals and journalists at the weekly Great March demonstrations.
Netanyahu came out in a video saying “we will respond strongly” to the Tel Aviv explosion and cut short his four-day visit with his United States ally, President Donald Trump.
For his part, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar canceled a Monday public meeting.
Palestinians are bracing for retaliation as two Israeli brigades were assigned to the Gaza area harkening memories of the 2014 Gaza war that killed as many as 2,310 Palestinians in the impoverished strip, compared to under a dozen Israelis civilians.
Attention #Gaza: #Israel deploys anti-missile launchers, Israeli military helicopters are seen flying over parts of Gaza, sending infantry and Israeli army reservists around the strip.
“We are prepared for a wide range of scenarios,” said Netanyahu Monday. The prime minister is facing criticism from other right-wing political rivals in the April 9 elections that he’s being weak on security. The prime minister’s election prospects have been clouded by corruption allegations against him. He has denied any wrongdoing.