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IDF chief: Israel destroyed hundreds of ‘terror targets’ in Gaza

Kohavi says military hit ‘ostensibly civilian’ buildings that were in fact ‘terrorist dens,’ will continue to attack if necessary

IDF chief Aviv Kochavi visits Southern Command in undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF chief Aviv Kochavi visits Southern Command in undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said Monday that the Israeli military destroyed “hundreds of military targets” in the Gaza Strip during two days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror groups.

“The terrorist army operating in the Gaza Strip, hiding among its own citizens, did not predict the strength of the IDF and the security organizations, which destroyed hundreds of terrorist targets, including headquarters, arms depots, as well as ostensibly civilian infrastructure and buildings that had become terrorist dens,” Kohavi said in an address ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, which begins Tuesday evening.

“Along with the significant damage to the enemy, I wish to express deep regret over the deaths of four of our citizens and to wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Kohavi said.

“The IDF will continue to attack with force, as needed, wherever it is needed,” he added.

Israeli soldiers seen near IDF tanks stationed near the Gaza border, May 6, 2019 (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

A ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups went into effect at 4:30 a.m. Monday, ending two days of intense fighting that saw more than 600 rockets fired at Israel and four Israeli civilians killed.

The Israeli government refused to confirm the reported truce, apparently so as to avoid publicly acknowledging its negotiations with terrorist groups. However, the military announced that, as of 7 a.m., it was lifting all security restrictions that had been in place in the south during the fighting, and that schools would be allowed to open, indicating that a ceasefire had indeed been reached.

An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal to AFP on condition of anonymity.

The apparent ceasefire, whose terms were not immediately clear, came after several hours of quiet and after a previous reported truce was punctured by rocket fire and airstrikes.

Israeli emergency personnel evacuate a wounded woman from the site of rocket attack in the southern Israeli town of Ashdod on May 5, 2019. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

There were no rockets or airstrikes after 2 a.m. Monday.

On Sunday night, before the truce took hold, the Israeli military said it bombed some 40 “terror targets” in the Gaza Strip in its latest round of airstrikes, bringing the IDF’s total number of raids up to 320 in the past two days.

Rockets are launched from Gaza Strip to Israel, Sunday, May 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The army said it targeted sites connected to Hamas, which rules Gaza, and to the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful terrorist organization in the Strip.

Over two days, in response to the rocket fire, the Israeli military conducted hundreds of strikes from the air and land, including one highly unusual targeted killing of a terrorist operative whom the IDF said funneled money from Iran to terror groups in the Strip.

Palestinian medical officials reported 31 dead since Friday, including at least 11 terrorists.

The high-level security cabinet huddled for five hours on Sunday over the violence, which killed four Israeli civilians in a single day, the deadliest casualty rate for Israel since the 2014 Gaza war.

Palestinians carry an injured boy outside a hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza strip on May 5, 2019. (ANAS BABA / AFP)

As of Sunday evening, in addition to the four dead, at least 10 Israelis were injured by shrapnel from rockets, missiles and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Fifty-eight year-old father of four Moshe Agadi was the first fatality after being rushed to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center with shrapnel wounds he sustained when the rocket hit his home in the city at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

In a barrage aimed at the same southern city later in the day, a rocket directly hit a factory, killing Zaid al-Hamamdeh, a 47-year-old father of seven, and injuring two others.

A short while later, a third man, Moshe Feder, 60, was fatally wounded when an anti-tank guided missile slammed into his car as he was driving along the Route 34 highway near the community of Kibbutz Erez, just north of the Gaza border. He sustained a serious shrapnel wound to the leg, causing significant blood loss. Feder was pronounced dead at Barzilai Medical Center after CPR efforts failed.

On Sunday evening, a fourth man was killed after being struck by rocket shrapnel while running for cover in the southern city of Ashdod, medics said. Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, was survived by his wife and son. He was laid to rest in Jerusalem.

Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.

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