Israel Accuses Hamas of Firing Rocket near Tel Aviv, Vows Forceful Response (UPDATED)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

An early morning rocket allegedly fired from the Gaza Strip, struck a home in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington.

The developments set the stage for a potential major conflagration, shortly before Israel’s upcoming elections.

The rocket attack destroyed a residential home in the community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of the family.

An Israeli military spokesperson said that the army was set to deploy two brigades and infantry units to the southern Gaza area. It also called up reserves after the rocket attack.

Netanyahu, in Washington to meet President Donald Trump, held emergency consultations with military officials back in Israel and decided to cut his visit short, canceling a planned address to the AIPAC conference and meetings with congressional leaders.

He said:

“There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully. In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s incident.

Later on Monday, a Hamas official denied to AFP news agency that the movement was behind the attack.

The official said on condition of anonymity:

“No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the enemy.”

He added that the same message had been delivered to Egypt, which has acted as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.

Witnesses in Gaza told AP news agency they saw Hamas officials evacuating government premises, anticipating an Israeli response to the alleged attack.

Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had canceled a scheduled public speech. Israel also shut down its main cargo crossing into Gaza.

(AJE, PC, Social Media)

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