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Netanyahu threatens ‘downpour’ if rocket fire does not subside

Responding to recent missiles from both Syria and Gaza, prime minister says country will not tolerate attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a reception in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, September 15, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a reception in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, September 15, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO).

Israel will not tolerate any missiles or mortars being fired from either Syria or from Gaza and will respond with disproportionate force, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday, a day after projectiles were fired at Israel from across both frontiers.

Speaking in the southern Israeli city of Netivot on Thursday evening, Netanyahu said that the country will not continue to absorb rocket fire “not from the north or from the south.”

“Anyone who thinks [of firing] a drizzle will receive a downpour,” he said during a ceremony in the Gaza border city. “The response of the past weeks speaks for itself.”

On Wednesday, a mortar shell fired from Syria struck the northern Golan Heights.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with mayor of the southern Israeli town of Netivot, Yehiel Zohar, at a reception honoring PM Netanyahu in Netivot, September 15, 2016. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with mayor of the southern Israeli town of Netivot, Yehiel Zohar, at a reception honoring PM Netanyahu in Netivot, September 15, 2016.
(Kobi Gideon / GPO)

The projectile, the latest of a series of apparently errant rounds to hit Israel in recent days, exploded in an open field near Israel’s border with Syria, causing no casualties or damage, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

It was the sixth such incident this week and came as fighting between President Bashar Assad’s regime and the numerous rebel groups in southern Syria escalated in recent weeks.

In response to the incidents, Israeli jets have targeted Syrian regime artillery batteries near the border several times, though there were no reports of any Israeli response in Syria Wednesday.

The United Nations, Russia and others have called for Israel to show restraint and keep tensions from spiraling out of control.

Later Wednesday night, a mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in an open field in the Eshkol region, causing no injury or damage.

In response, Israeli jets struck three targets overnight, which belonged to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip. The strikes were all carried out in northern Gaza, according to an IDF statement.

Israel is currently readying itself in case of all-out war.

Beginning next week, the Home Front Command will kick off “Standing Firm,” a preparedness drill which will include exercises to test the ability of the IDF and local governments to handle rocket attacks, terrorists infiltrating communities, electric grid failures and other emergency situations.

On Tuesday morning, the Home Front Command will sound the rocket alert siren in cities around Israel at different times and then throughout the country at 7:05 p.m., except for the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

According to the army, some 230,000 rockets of various sizes and warhead capacities are currently aimed toward Israel from a host of enemies.

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