Israel Responds After Hamas Fires 200 Rockets at South

YERUSHALAYIM -
Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on a building in Gaza City, July 14. (Reuters/Ahmed Zakot)

After a night and day in which Hamas terrorists fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells at Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel had decided to undertake a “significant” action against the Gaza terror group. “We will expand our response as needed,” Netanyahu said in a statement Motzoei Shabbos. “If Hamas does not understand the message in one way, it will understand it in another way. We have struck Hamas the hardest since it has been hit during Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.

Israeli forces throughout the day slammed Hamas positions, as the terror group continued firing missiles at Israel. According to Channel 20, Israel was hit with over 200 missiles beginning after midnight Friday and through 11:00 p.m. Motzoei Shabbos. Fifty of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome system. With all the rockets, there were just four light injuries, when four members of a family in Sderot were lightly wounded by shrapnel from a rocket that exploded near their home. A second rocket fell outside a shul in Sderot, but, b’chasdei Shamayim, no one was injured in that attack. Most of the rockets that were not shot down fell in open areas, but some fell in towns and cities, causing several broken windows and damaging vehicles.

Residents of the south spent much of Shabbos in bomb shelters, as Red Alert warnings sounded throughout the night and day – 165 altogether. Israeli planes attacked Hamas positions in the interior of Gaza throughout the day. Reports Motzoei Shabbos said that Egypt was seeking to negotiate a ceasefire, and that the U.N. special liaison to the Middle East, Nikolao Maldenov, was also involved in the talks.

In a statement, the IDF spokesperson said that the army’s reaction would be stronger and sharper. “It’s too soon to talk about a major campaign in Gaza, but we are prepared for this,” the spokesperson said. “We attacked so far over 40 high-quality targets, including weapons warehouses, tunnels, manufacturing sites for weapons and others. We are concentrating on infrastructure because they have plenty of people, and human losses don’t bother them. They invest millions of dollars and many years in the construction of each tunnel, and we destroy them in an instant.”

Meanwhile, Gaza terrorists continued with their other form of attack – the terror balloons and kites that have burned thousands of dunams of land in southern Israel. Firefighters fought at least 11 such blazes over Shabbos, with four planes required to dump water on two large blazes near Kibbtuz Gvaram and Kibbutz Or Haner. The latter was the second day in a row that a large fire broke out due to a Hamas balloon attack.