Palestinian militants in Gaza on Monday fired 14 rockets into Israel – 12 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system — during a second day of violence that threatened to spark wider hostilities only a week before the elections.
One of the rockets slammed into an empty playground in the town of Sderot, where it caused damage but no injuries, according to the Times of Israel.
The other rocket that eluded the Israel Defense Forces’ missile defense system apparently hit an open field near Nir Am in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, the news outlet reported.
The IDF later said it had begun conducting airstrikes against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, the militant group took responsibility for attacks in which some 30 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel, about half of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome. No injuries were reported.
The IDF retaliated with airstrikes on Islamic Jihad sites in the Gaza Strip and in Syria, killing two members of the terror group outside Damascus along with four other pro-Iranian fighters, the Times of Israel reported.
Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing, said Monday that Israel’s strikes in Syria “will not pass fleetingly, according to the outlet.
“The fight is not over,” he added.
Hamas, the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip, has stayed out of the hostilities but Israel’s Army Radio reported that the IDF was prepared to target the terror group in addition to the Islamic Jihad if necessary.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett warned Monday that Israel would not hesitate to begin a major operation to prevent attacks on Israeli communities despite elections being only a week away.
Netanyahu said he “will not compromise Israel’s security for political reasons,” according to the Times of Israel.
“War is a last resort, but there may be no escape from it. We’ve prepared a radically different campaign,” he said.
“If Israel is in the position of entering a large-scale military operation, we will have to deal a bigger blow than [operations] Cast Lead, Pillar of Smoke and Protective Edge,” Netanyahu added.
“It could very well be that we may have to carry out — I don’t really want to say it, but — ‘the mother of all operations,’” he said on radio. “I’m not looking for a war. But we have prepared something you can’t even imagine.”
Bennett told reporters in Jerusalem that Israel is “preparing a plan to fundamentally change the situation in the Gaza Strip.
He added: “I really understand the situation of the people of the south. They deserve peace and security.”
With Post wires
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