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Netanyahu vows ‘vigorous response’ to Gaza fire

In effort to uphold ceasefire, Hamas reportedly arrests operatives of rival factions suspected of shooting rockets into Israel

A kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a Kassam rocket fired by Gaza terrorists during US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel in March (photo credit: Flash90)
A kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a Kassam rocket fired by Gaza terrorists during US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel in March (photo credit: Flash90)

Following a second day of rocket fire from the Gaza strip into Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday promised a strong response if fire emanating from the Hamas-controlled enclave does not cease.

“If the lull is violated, we will respond vigorously,” he said in a statement on Wednesday evening. “The security of Israel’s citizens tops my concerns and we will know how to defend the security of our citizens.”

On Wednesday morning, hours after Israeli planes bombed targets in the Hamas-controlled territory in response to rocket fire — it was the first such airstrike since last November’s Operation Pillar of Defense — two more rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip and struck southern Israel.

Red alert warning sirens blared across Sderot and the surrounding area in advance of the attacks. One of the rockets exploded in an open area in the Eshkol border region.

“We will not abide a lapse into the situation the reigned in the days leading up to Operation Pillar of Defense,” said IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, “The south is strong and stable, everything is under control.”

Hamas has been trying curb the rocket fire from the territory, and has even sent calming messages to Israel to the effect that it is working to uphold the ceasefire by, among other measures, arresting members of factions that have been shooting rockets, Channel 2 reported.

Those terror factions, meanwhile, are claiming that the rocket fire was a response to the death on Tuesday of a Palestinian prisoner held by Israel.

Ilan Ben Zion and AP contributed to this report.

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