Trump’s peace envoy condemns ‘outrageous’ rocket fire at Tel Aviv, slams Hamas
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Trump’s peace envoy condemns ‘outrageous’ rocket fire at Tel Aviv, slams Hamas

Jason Greenblatt says ‘this is what prevents the world from helping the people of Gaza’; EU envoy expresses ‘grave concern’ at attack, calls targeting civilian areas ‘unacceptable’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)

US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Jason Greenblatt on Thursday strongly condemned the rocket fire on the Tel Aviv area, and stressed the administration’s “strong support” for Israel.

“Hamas violently suppresses its own people demonstrating against Hamas’ rule & failures today and NOW fires rockets at cities in Israel,” he tweeted about half an hour after sirens blared in Tel Aviv when two rockets fired from Gaza headed toward central Israel.

“OUTRAGEOUS! This is what prevents the world from helping the people of Gaza! We strongly support Israel in defense of its citizens. Always!”

The rockets both hit open areas, and did not cause casualties. Five people were treated for shock by paramedics.

Screen capture from video showing the Tel Aviv skyline on March 14 as rocket warning sirens blare after the launch of two rockets from the Gaza Strip (IDF)

Earlier on Thursday, Hamas violently broke up a rare demonstration against its rule in Gaza.

“Hamas and other terror [organizations] in Gaza continue to fail their people day after day & drag Gaza further & further down by constantly choosing violence. This method will never work. Ever! It will just continue to cause more suffering,” Greenblatt tweeted a few hours after the attack.

People standing outside a bomb shelter after it was opened by the Tel Aviv municipality on March 14, 2019, after earlier two rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired toward central Israel. (Adam Shuldman/Flash90)

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the rocket launches. Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad denied involvement.

A Hamas official told the The Times of Israel that the terror group “has no interest in an escalation” with Israel. The official said he had “no idea” who fired the rockets toward Tel Aviv.

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry called the rocket fire “outside the national consensus” and said it would exact measures against those behind it.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 13 news that Israel indeed did not believe Hamas was behind the attack, but rather another “organization attempting to sabotage efforts to achieve calm in recent days.”

Initial reports had indicated that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group was responsible for the rocket fire. Hebrew-language media reported that Fajr missiles were launched, which PIJ has in its arsenal.

However, the terror group also denied that it was behind the launch. PIJ spokesman Daoud Shehab called the reports “baseless lies and claims.”

Hamas and PIJ told Egyptian security officials who were in the Strip to discuss a long-term truce that they were not responsible for the rockets, Al-Jazeera reported.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, also condemned the rocket attack. “Following developments with grave concern after rockets fired from Gaza triggered alert over Tel Aviv area. Targeting civilian areas unacceptable,” he tweeted.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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