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U.S. Condemns Rocket Attacks, Supports Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli airstike on Gaza City on May 4, 2019. - Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets at Israel, which responded with airstrikes, officials said, as a fragile ceasefire again faltered. (Photo by Mahmud Hams / AFP) (Photo credit should read MAHMUD …
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty
DEBORAH DANAN

ASHDOD, SOUTHERN ISRAEL – The U.S. lambasted Gaza-based terror groups for launching hundreds of missiles at civilian populations in Israel, and supported the country’s right to defend itself.

“The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel. We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Saturday evening.

“We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self-defense against these abhorrent attacks,” she added.

Beginning early Saturday, Hamas and PIJ have fired hundreds of projectiles at Israeli population centers in the south, killing Moshe Agadi, 58, and injuring 50 more. Agadi was hit by shrapnel in his chest and stomach while stepping out for a cigarette in between rocket barrages.

“We don’t know how to continue from here. If Moshe was here he would have given us hope. We are helpless,” Moshe’s brother Shai Agadi told Army Radio.

Two more Israelis have been killed by incoming rockets, both in Ashkelon.

Seventy percent of the projectiles fell in open areas and more than 250 were hit by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Israel responded by bombing dozens of terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including a cross-border underground tunnel, a subterranean rocket factory, a six-story building used by Hamas intelligence, as well as the private homes of dozens of terror commanders — some of which were being used as weapons caches, the army said.

President Donald Trump’s Special Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt also condemned the terror groups’ “deplorable” acts.

“Hamas & PIJ have engaged in yet another deplorable act of terrorism, indiscriminately firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilian communities. The U.S. stands firmly in support of Israel’s right to self-defense and we call on the international community to do the same,” he tweeted.

He added that the terror groups were harming Palestinians as well.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the Gaza border communities region to have a “special status” for 48 hours.

“As I am convinced that there is a reasonably high chance that an attack against the civilian population will take place, I am declaring this special status for the Gaza periphery at a radius of 0 to 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu wrote.

The status, which allows the government additional powers in order to protect the lives of civilians, was last instituted during the 2014 summer conflict with Hamas.

In the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, Netanyahu expressed his condolences to the Agadi family and said he ordered more reinforcements to Gaza.

“I instructed the IDF to continue massive attacks against terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip. I also ordered the reinforcement of the units around the Gaza Strip with armor, artillery and infantry,” he said.

The IDF on Sunday morning deployed more troops along the border with Gaza, sending the Seventh Armored Brigade “to act as an offensive force within the Gaza Division,” the military said in a statement.

“Hamas bears the responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also for the actions of Islamic Jihad, and it is paying a very heavy price for this,” he said.

“We are working – and will continue to work – to restore quiet and security to the residents of the south,” the Israeli premier concluded.

In Gaza, videos emerged of people celebrating in the streets as rockets pounded southern Israel.

 

 

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