Netanyahu: Hamas responsible for all Gaza rocket fire

As ruler of the Palestinian territory, PM says, terror group ‘must prevent’ such attacks; Israel to continue retaliatory strikes

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 13, 2016 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 13, 2016 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday charged that as the ruler of the Gaza Strip, the Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for any rockets fired at Israel from inside the Palestinian territory.

“Israel holds Hamas responsible for all firing carried out from the Gaza Strip toward Israel; Hamas must prevent such firing,” he said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

On Friday evening, four rockets launched from within the Palestinian territory landed in an open field near the southern Israeli city of Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported. Hours later, Israeli jets struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

While Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday that Hamas was not seeking to escalate hostilities and likely did not launch Friday’s rockets, Netanyahu made clear the IDF would continue to “respond to any such provocations.”

“Our policy in regard to the Gaza Strip is clear: Israel will not tolerate any rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel,” the prime minister said Sunday.

No organization has claimed responsibility for Friday’s rocket attack, which came at around the same time as a shooting attack in the West Bank that left two IDF soldiers lightly hurt.

Hamas’s Health Ministry said 6-year-old Isaa Abu Khussa and her brother Yassin Sleiman, 10, were killed in the retaliatory Israeli strike. A Reuters report said the Gaza victims’ home was located near a Hamas training base that was targeted in the Israeli reprisal raids. It said the home was hit by debris from a missile explosion nearby. The IDF did not comment on the reports of the deaths, but said its airstrikes were directed at Hamas “terror infrastructure.”

In his comments Sunday, Netanyahu also said that Israel continues to actively combat threat of “incitement to commit murder” in Palestinian media, and pointed to a Palestinian TV and radio station whose West Bank offices were shuttered by Israel early on Friday.

In response, the Islamic Jihad terrorist group held a rally Friday afternoon in Gaza in a show of solidarity with the shuttered Palestine al-Yawm (Palestine Today), where the media outlet continues to broadcast from.

Later on Friday night, Hamas hacked into the private satellite feed of Israel’s Channel 2 Friday night, interrupting broadcasts with a video promising its “terror will never end.”

The rockets were fired into Israel shortly after.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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