First Gaza rockets land in Israel since Soleimani killing

Updated January 16, 2020

Email

An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen on Gaza City, on Wednesday. — AP
An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen on Gaza City, on Wednesday. — AP

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said four rockets were fired on Wednesday from Hamas-controlled Gaza, the first since Israel’s ally the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

“Four rockets were just fired from Gaza at Israel. Two rockets were intercepted mid-air by the Iron Dome aerial defence system,” the military tweeted.

It was not possible to immediately confirm where the other two rockets landed.

The fire from the Palestinian territory was the first since the Jan 3 assassination in a Baghdad drone strike of Soleimani, a key figure in Iran which supports Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week warned Israel would strike a “resounding blow” if attacked by Iran.

Hamas condemned the killing of Soleimani but stopped short of calling for revenge attacks.

The prime minister did not immediately respond to the latest rocket fire, which comes just weeks ahead of March 2 elections.

But his rival Benny Gantz accused the premier of failing “in his duty to provide security to the residents” of southern Israel bordering Gaza.

“We will put an end to ... the rocket fire ... It is time to bring about a decisive outcome,” the Blue and White party leader said.

Hamas has over the past year gradually shaped an informal truce with Israel, under which the Jewish state has slightly eased its crippling blockade of the enclave in exchange for calm. But Israel in November assassinated a senior leader of Islamic Jihad, a Hamas-allied militant group in Gaza, sparking a flare-up in which 36 Palestinians were killed. No Israelis died.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020