Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhala said Monday that the Palestinian terror group will respond to any Israeli “aggression” on the Gaza Strip with force.
Nakhala, from the Iran-backed group, made the statement after a rocket struck a residential building in central Israel early Monday morning.
“We warn the Zionist enemy against perpetrating any aggression against the Gaza Strip. Its leaders should know that we will respond with force to their aggression,” said Nakhala, a Gaza native who has been based in Syria and Lebanon since 1988, in a statement published on the Islamic Jihad-linked Palestine Today website.
The Israeli military has deployed two additional brigades to the Gaza region and called up reservists for air defense units following the attack, according to the IDF.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to respond “forcefully” to the “criminal attack” and has cut short his trip to the US so he can return to Israel to oversee the response.
The rocket fire, which emanated from the Gaza Strip, triggered air raid sirens at approximately 5:20 a.m. throughout the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions north of Tel Aviv, the army said. Seven people were injured in the attack, including two infants.
As of Monday morning, no terror groups in Gaza had taken responsibility for the rocket fire.
However, IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis accused the Hamas terror group of firing the rocket from Rafah, a city in the southern section of Gaza.
“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza,” Manelis said.
As of noon, Hamas had not issued an official statement on the rocket launch.
On March 14, two rockets from Gaza were fired at Tel Aviv, landing in open areas and causing no direct injury. In response, Israeli war planes hit over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza later that night, the army said at the time.
The following day, after a brief exchange of fire, both Israel and terror groups in Gaza reportedly agreed to a ceasefire. Israeli media later reported defense officials said that low-level Hamas operatives apparently shot off the rockets by mistake.