Rivlin: We will respond to Hamas with 'force, determination'

After night of rockets and Gaza strikes, Hamas says Israel will ‘pay price’

IDF boosts Iron Dome batteries in south; agricultural workers ordered to cease work near border with enclave; 2 fires sparked by balloon-borne incendiary devices

Homeowner Osnat Malka inspects damage from a rocket fired overnight from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel, Aug. 21, 2020 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Homeowner Osnat Malka inspects damage from a rocket fired overnight from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel, Aug. 21, 2020 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Hamas terror group warned on Friday that Israel will “pay the price” for its actions against the Gaza Strip, after a night that saw 12 rockets fired toward Israel and three rounds of reprisal airstrikes by Israeli warplanes.

“Israel must bear the consequences and pay the price for the continued aggression against Gaza, the tightening of the siege, the disruption of the lives of residents and the bombing of resistance facilities,” a Hamas statement read. “The resistance clarifies that it will not hesitate to wage a campaign against Israel if the escalation and bombings continue.”

Friday morning saw a renewal of fires in the south caused by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza toward Israel. Two blazes in the area under the jurisdiction of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council were brought under control by firefighters.

The Israel Defense Forces said it carried out three sets of strikes overnight and in the early hours of the morning in response to rocket-fire, targeting underground infrastructure belonging to Hamas, a cement facility used to provide materials for tunnels dug by Gazan terror groups and a site where rockets are produced.

The IDF later released footage of the strikes, saying it showed aircraft bombing Hamas “military facilities, weapons production sites and underground infrastructure.”

The Shehab news outlet, which is linked to Hamas, reported that at least one person was injured during the strikes east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. The Gaza health ministry did not report any injuries.

Smoke rises in the distance after warplanes belonging to the Israeli army carried out airstrikes over Khan Yunis, in the Southern Gaza Strip early morning on August 21, 2020. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Twelve rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Strip on Thursday evening and in the early hours of Friday morning, the IDF said. Nine of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the military said.

“We hold Hamas responsible for all terror activity emanating from Gaza,” the military added.

The rockets marked a major escalation, even as tensions have ramped up over the past several weeks with sporadic rocket fire and hundreds of balloons carrying incendiary devices being launched toward Israel, drawing near-daily Israeli reprisal fire.

A home in the southern Israeli town of Sderot sustained considerable damage in one of the attacks.

Pictures of the home showed a kitchen blown apart, windows smashed and large holes in walls and the roof. Reports indicated that the damage was likely caused by shrapnel from an interception.

An Israeli man inspects the damage to a home after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel, Aug. 21, 2020 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement saying Israel would respond to the violence with “force and determination.”

“Israelis living in the area around Gaza had another tough night, including serious damage to property. This morning, too, we are with them and have full of appreciation for their resilience,” Rivlin said in a statement.

President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem during the Knesset elections on March 2, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“We will not stand by while Hamas is out of control. The IDF will respond with force and determination, sortie after sortie, and will continue even if it requires patience and time,” Rivlin said.

The IDF boosted the number of Iron Dome batteries in the south of the country in response to the uptick in violence.

It also ordered the cessation of agricultural work near the border fence with the enclave until further notice.

Israeli soldiers extinguish a fire near Kibbutz Kissufim caused by an incendiary balloon launched from the Gaza Strip on August 19, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Over the past few weeks, terrorists in the enclave have again begun launching balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices into southern Israel, sparking dozens of fires that caused environmental and property damage in the region.

Those attacks have drawn daily retaliatory Israeli strikes against Hamas installations.

The apparent uptick in fighting late Thursday and early Friday comes amid truce efforts being brokered by Egypt.

A ceasefire in place for years, which has already been renewed several times, is bolstered by millions of dollars in financial aid from Qatar to Gaza. But complaints from Hamas that Israel has failed to live up to its side of the bargain have been accompanied by sporadic flare-ups on the border.

AFP contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed