Amid reports of a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip Monday night, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right) warned that such a move would be an “embarrassment” for Israel and would “give a bizarre backing to terror.”
His statements came after the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, said it had accepted an Egyptian-brokered truce agreement with Israel. However, hours after it made the announcement rocket launches against Israel continued, as did Israeli strikes in the enclave.
Bennett said he would do “all I can to stop this embarrassment from happening.
“The destruction of another empty building further weakens Israel’s deterrence and will bring more rockets on us,” he said, in reference to Israel’s perceived effort to avoid deaths in its retaliatory action, in order to prevent an escalation.
He added that “There is no country in the world that would not exact a price for rockets fired at its citizens and there is no country in the world where the blood of its citizens is as disregarded as [in the situation] we have seen in recent days.”
There was no immediate confirmation or comment from Israeli officials on the reported truce, which reportedly went into effect at 10 p.m.
But less than an hour after it was announced sirens in southern Israel warning of incoming rocket fire were triggered multiple times and continued after midnight, indicating the fighting had not ceased. The army said around 30 launches from Gaza were identified after 10 p.m. Several of the rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome, while others fell in open areas and did not cause damage.
In response IDF aircraft struck 15 targets in, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military compounds in the north of the territory.
Israeli strikes on Monday were directed at Hamas targets, including the office of leader Ismail Haniyeh, in response to a rocket attack earlier in the day from Gaza that flattened a central Israeli home and injured seven people.
Shortly after 5:30 p.m., the Israeli military began bombing targets throughout the Gaza Strip, approximately 12 hours after the rocket hit the home northeast of Tel Aviv.
The Monday night barrage, which targeted communities throughout the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev and Central Negev regions of southern Israel, began roughly three hours into the Israeli bombing campaign. The attack triggered air raid sirens throughout the region, sending thousands of Israelis scrambling to bomb shelters.
In addition to Haniyeh’s office, which the Hamas leader had long since fled before it was targeted, the military also bombed what it referred to as a “secret headquarters” of Hamas used by its intelligence services.
Departing the US for Israel around 2 a.m. (Israel time), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would head straight for IDF headquarters upon landing in Tel Aviv Tuesday afternoon. “We will deal with these issues,” he said. “We gave a very powerful response. Hamas needs to know that we won’t hesitate to go in [to Gaza] and take any required steps.”
With the start of the IDF strikes on Monday evening, cities and towns throughout southern and central Israel opened their public bomb shelters in anticipation of retaliatory attacks from Gaza. Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Lezion and other cities and towns throughout the country all opened their municipal bomb shelters.