Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that substantial attacks against terrorists in Gaza will continue after more than 400 rockets were fired towards Israel, CNN reports. The prime minister’s remarks were made at a weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning.
“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,” Netanyahu declared.
According to Gaza health officials, one Israeli was killed by a rocket that landed in the city of Ashkelon, and two Palestinian militants were killed in the airstrikes.
In addition, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have denied that a pregnant mother and her 1-year-old baby in Gaza were killed by Israeli airstrikes, instead claiming that their deaths were caused by a misfired Hamas rocket.
The United Nations has said that it is working closely with Egypt in an attempt to restore a ceasefire, emphasizing that both sides are making an effort to relieve suffering in Gaza. The violence escalated Saturday morning, with about 50 rockets initially fired towards Israel over the course of an hour, which then continued into the night.
The IDF said its “Iron Dome” missile defense system had intercepted dozens of the incoming rockets.
They also said that in response to the rockets, they have conducted targeted airstrikes on around 200 military targets in Gaza. Those targets included a tunnel, rocket launcher sites, and other military compounds used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ.) A mosque in al-Shati was also struck, which the IDF said was used as a command and control center by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In response to 250+ rockets fired from #Gaza at Israel, we struck a Hamas HQ. In this building, Hamas used to order terror attacks and used to transfer money, supplies & logistics for the sake of killing Israelis.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 4, 2019
Emphasis on the "used to". We destroyed it. pic.twitter.com/Bh2zhCGzCF
A building housing the office for Turkey’s state-run news agency was also struck, which Israel claimed was also used by Hamas military intelligence. Turkey condemned that strike as a blow to freedom of the press.
“We urge all governments that claim to defend press freedom, including @USEmbassyTurkey to join us in condemning the Israeli government,” said a spokesman for Turkey’s President.
The escalation of violence comes following an agreement mediated by Egypt between Israel and Hamas, which took place prior to the recent Israeli election. That agreement, though not publicly acknowledged by Israel, reportedly included measures to loosen some of the restrictions currently imposed on Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.
Recent statements by Hamas, however, have indicated a growing frustration that Israel has not moved fast enough to fulfill those pledges, which include allowing the transfer of millions of dollars of extra funding from Qatar.