TEL AVIV – Israel will retaliate with full force if there are more attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a top Israeli general said Wednesday as the security cabinet met to discuss the latest rocket fire emanating from the coastal enclave.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the session to discuss the possibility of a large-scale confrontation with Gaza. Netanyahu had warned earlier that day that Israel would “act forcefully” if the violence continues.
Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command, warned the Hamas terror group that Israel will “know how to respond more forcefully for situations in the future.”
Israeli strikes saw the destruction of some 20 terror targets in Gaza, including an underground tunnel that ran into Israeli territory. The raids were in response to rocket fire from Gaza, one of which hit a home in the southern city of Beersheba. Seconds before the attack, homeowner Miri Tamano grabbed her three sons and got them and herself into a bomb shelter.
Halevi said the army conducted “significant strikes against Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities, headquarters, posts and underground infrastructure. Everything that was attacked was destroyed. It will be difficult for them to rebuild, to bring in the money (to pay for reconstruction).”
“Hamas pretends to rule Gaza, tells Gaza residents that it’s trying to improve their lives. But in reality, the riots on the fence, the improvised explosive device, the explosive balloons, the incendiary balloons and, as we’ve seen tonight, rockets make the lives of Gaza Strip worse,” he said.
Hamas’s upper leadership is said to have gone into hiding after the latest air force raids.
Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad have denied responsibility for the rocket attacks, but Israel has said only those terror groups were able to launch rockets as far as Beersheba.