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25 Mar, 2019 10:52

Israeli army to send additional forces to Gaza in retaliation for rocket fire

Israeli army to send additional forces to Gaza in retaliation for rocket fire

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is sending two additional brigades and thousands of army reserves to the Gaza border after a rocket was fired into Israel on Monday, prompting fears of a major military incursion.

The IDF accused Hamas of carrying out the attack which injured seven people and damaged a family home in Moshav Mishmeret. It said the rocket was fired from Rafa in southern Gaza.

Hamas or Islamic Jihad have not claimed responsibility for the attack, but Hamas reportedly told Egypt that it was fired in error and they are investigating. Egypt is reportedly attempting to negotiate a ceasefire.

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Military spokesperson Major Mika Lifshitz said two armor and infantry brigades were being mobilized and that reserves would also be drafted.

Haaretz reports that “thousands” of reserves will be called up. Hamas leaders have gone underground in anticipation of an attack. The IDF said it holds Hamas “responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip and from it.”

Israeli military officials are meeting with the local government in the Israeli areas around Gaza communities to prepare them for expected retaliatory strikes, the Times of Israel reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would cut his trip to Washington short and that Israel would respond “forcefully.”

Israel has also closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings and placed additional restrictions on fishing.

The buildup of troops suggests Gaza could face a military incursion in the lead up to Israel’s election on April 9. Netanyahu has been accused of not being hard enough on Hamas by his political opponents.

Two rockets were fired from Gaza on March 14, in what Hamas, and later Israel, said was an error. Israel responded with rocket fire that it said hit around 100 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.

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