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25 Mar, 2019 15:49

Israel starts striking Hamas targets throughout Gaza in response to rocket attack

Israel starts striking Hamas targets throughout Gaza in response to rocket attack

The Israeli military has begun striking the Gaza strip, hours after a Palestinian rocket hit a house near Tel Aviv.

Israeli airstrikes have reportedly hit the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, the militant group’s radio network said. Haniyeh is likely unharmed, as the group’s leadership normally evacuates potential target buildings when an Israeli strike is expected.

Israeli forces meanwhile say they have struck Hamas’ intelligence and internal security headquarters.

Palestinian militant group Hamas is accused of firing a rocket into Israel from Gaza early on Monday. The rocket hit a family home in Moshav Mishmeret, near the capital of Tel Aviv, injuring seven people. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded by immediately calling up “thousands” of reserves and mobilizing two armor and infantry brigades.

The attack prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut his trip to the US short. Returning to Israel on Monday, Netanyahu vowed to respond “forcefully.” US President Donald Trump lent his support to the Israeli strikes, recognizing Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

There are no casualty reports yet from the latest airstrikes. A Hamas naval position west of Gaza City and a training camp in northern Gaza were reportedly among the targets. Unconfirmed reports suggest that an insurance company’s building in Gaza City has also been struck.

Israel has closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossing points and opened bomb shelters near the strip. Palestinian militants responded to the strikes by launching rockets at Israeli towns near the border, according to the IDF.

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, Palestinian officials told Reuters later on Monday night.

Also on rt.com Trump signs declaration recognizing Israel's sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights

The rocket fire and subsequent retaliation comes less than two weeks after the IDF and Hamas exchanged rocket fire. Israel said it pounded around 100 Hamas targets in Gaza after Hamas launched two rockets, apparently in error.

Amidst the chaos in Gaza, Trump and Netanyahu held a joint conference in Washington, announcing Trump’s signing of a declaration recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967.

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