Over 50 rockets targeted on Tel Aviv and nearby areas overnight

Israel attacks Hamas buildings in Gaza


Promising to “shake the ground” in Israel, Hamas unleashed an intense barrage of rockets last night with more than 50 launches towards Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas, and others towards regions close to the border. 

It intensified attacks as as Israel carried out heavy bombings in Gaza, the latest of which have targeted homes of Hamas leaders, including those of Hannas leader Yaya Sinwar and his brother Mohammad, overnight. They were not present. 

The IDF says all targets are selected because they are part of Gaza’s terror infrastructure, and that steps are taken to protect civilians. 

But a strike which destroyed a high-rise building yesterday is causing controversy because it contained homes and offices, including those of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. And while civilians received warnings and evacuated, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt claimed this morning there was “no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”

The IDF has rejected the criticism, insisting that Hamas had facilities in the building that housed both military intelligence and research, and also Islamic Jihad. 
Israelis were woken by rocket alerts in many locales last night, including Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Rishon Lezion, Holon, Rosh Haayin and Ashdod. Mr Netanyahu has indicated that a ceasefire is not on the agenda yet, saying that “we can expect to go through difficult days” and operations against Hamas will “continue as long as they are needed.”

There have already been 10 deaths in Israel as a result of the attacks from Gaza, which started on Monday, and have seen 2,300 rockets fired. 

There is broad backing in Israel for the IDF’s fight against Hamas — but there is cynicism in some political camps regarding why it has escalated now. Avigdor Liberman, leader of the right-wing but anti-Netanyahu Israel Beytenu party, claimed in a television interview that the “strategic goal” of the fighting is to boost the Prime Minister’s image and ensure a government is not formed without him.

A week ago, a Netanyahu-less government, including Mr Liberman and others, looked almost certain to form, but the security crisis caused one of the key players, Naftali Bennett of Yamina, to withdraw. Mr Liberman claimed that the PM is manipulating events to help his political career and said: “Machiavelli should take private lessons from Netanyahu.”

Domestic Arab-Jewish clashes were less intense last night than on previous evenings but in the West Bank things have been heating up. Some Palestinians responded to the Gaza violence, which has seen an 150 deaths in the coastal enclave according to Hamas, with their own attacks, including the attempted car ramming of a soldier last night.

West Bank violence also marks the anniversary of Israel’s establishment — known in the Palestinian narrative as Nakba Day — which normally triggers clashes. An IDF soldier was injured in last night’s West Bank clashes, and two Palestinians are believed to have been killed. 


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