Netanyahu: War Could Go On Into September

YERUSHALAYIM -

Negotiations for a ceasefire with Hamas seemed like a distant memory on Sunday, as the air war in the south continued with a ferocious intensity.

Over 140 rockets and 80 mortars rained down on Israel through Sunday. Mortar fire has intensified in recent days, because, unlike the bigger rockets, they don’t trigger the warning sirens and Iron Dome interceptors.

Iron Dome shot down at least 10 rockets on Sunday, including one on a trajectory toward the Yerushalayim area on Sunday night, the IDF confirmed. No injuries or damage were reported. Rocket alert sirens sounded in Beit Shemesh, Abu Ghosh, Telshe Stone and other areas around Yerushalayim on Sunday night.

A mortar shell landed at the Erez Border Crossing with Israel, at around 1:00 p.m., seriously injuring two people. Both were relatives of Gazans who had crossed into Israel for medical treatment, and they had come to the checkpoint to pick them up. Magen David Adom paramedics evacuated them to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. A third victim was treated at the scene.

In a new approach, the IDF has intensified its efforts to destroy any structure from where terror activity is detected, no matter where it is. This is carried out mainly through air strikes, and includes targeted assassinations of senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives. In addition, in the last 48 hours, the IDF has conducted air strikes on multi-story buildings, commercial and government centers, causing as much damage as possible to Hamas and those closest to the organization, including to their private property. “The formula of our operations has changed,” a senior defense official said. “Today, we can strike homes located high up without harming innocent people, or with minimal casualties. We precede these strikes with the knock on the roof policy, and after people leave the building, we knock it down,” he noted.

Operation Protective Edge could continue into September, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, but that schools would nevertheless open on schedule.

“Hamas is paying and will yet pay a heavy price for the crimes that it has perpetrated,” Netanyahu told his cabinet at the weekly meeting.

“In recent days we have proven there is no immunity for those who fire at Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said.

He called on civilians in Gaza to evacuate any building used by Hamas for terrorist activity. “Any such place is a target for us,” he said.