IDF Deploys 1,000 Troops to Gaza, Blames Hamas for Rocket Attack

A general view shows an emergency responder inspecting a damaged house after it was hit by a rocket in the village of Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv on March 25, 2019. - A rocket hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv and caused it to catch fire …
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Hamas is to blame for the rocket attack on central Israel that injured seven civilians, the IDF said, even as the Gaza-ruling terror group flatly denied the charge. 

The J-80 rocket, which had a range of 120 km (75 miles), was fired from a Hamas launchpad in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said. It was the farthest distance covered by a Gaza-launched rocket since 2014’s summer conflict.

However, a senior Hamas official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Times of Israel that the terror group did not fire the rocket, and has no interest in sparking an escalation. Hamas would launch an investigation to find out who was responsible for firing the rocket, he said.

“An Egyptian security delegation was supposed to come to Gaza today,” the official said. “Hamas does not have an interest in firing a rocket at Israel before its arrival.”

Hamas operatives abandoned their posts throughout Gaza in anticipation of an Israeli response.

The IDF did not directly comment on the Iron Dome’s failure to intercept the rocket, but seemed to suggest it was because the missile defense battery was not deployed in the area that the rocket struck.

The army deployed two additional brigades to the Gaza border area comprising 1,000 troops as well as reservists for air defense units.

The rocket caused the building to catch fire, burning the structure to the ground.

A 59-year-old woman suffered moderate blast injuries including burns and shrapnel wounds. A 30-year-old woman was also moderately wounded by shrapnel. A 30-year-old man, 60-year-old man, 12-year-old girl, three-year-old boy and 18-month-old baby all sustained light injuries. The 12-year-old is undergoing surgery for shrapnel in her foot. Four dogs were also killed in the blast.

The injured persons were mostly members of the Wolf family, British-Israeli residents of the community of Mishmeret.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut his trip to the United States short after news of the attack.

“This was a criminal attack on Israel and we will respond forcefully,” Netanyahu said from Washington.

He said he would return to Israel “to oversee our response first-hand” after he meets with President Donald Trump on Monday morning local time.

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