Israel on alert after airstrikes on Gaza | News | DW | 25.03.2019
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Israel on alert after airstrikes on Gaza

A night of heavy fire in the Gaza border region has been replaced by a morning of tense calm. Southern Israel had been on high alert despite reports that a ceasefire had taken effect.

Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and sent extra troops to the border on Monday after a surprise rocket attack from the Palestinian territory injured several Israelis near Tel Aviv.

Rocket attack sirens sounded in southern Israel late on Monday, despite a statement from Palestinian officials that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire.

What you need to know:

  • Sirens sounded after the Israeli army said at least 30 rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza. Nearly all of them were shot down or landed in open areas, it added.
  • Shortly before the rockets were fired, Hamas said a ceasefire had entered force at 10 p.m. local time (2000 UTC).
  • Israeli forces struck targets across Gaza, including the offices of Hamas' leadership, which went into hiding.
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants fired several rockets into southern Israel in response to the strikes.
  • After a night of heavy fire, a tense calm took hold on Tuesday morning.
Benjamin Netanjahu (Getty Images/L. Mizrahi)

Benjamin Netanjahu vowed to respond "forcefully" to the rocket attacks

Netanyahu: 'Israel will not tolerate this'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Israel will not tolerate this, I will not tolerate this. Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression."

"We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state," Netanyahu added, cutting short his US trip to return home to deal with the situation.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Palestinian people "will not surrender" and that Hamas "will deter the enemy if it exceeds the red lines."

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25, 2019 (Reuters/A. Cohen)

Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border

Tensions ahead of elections: Monday's escalation with Gaza militants comes just two weeks ahead of Israel's general elections, where the Israeli prime minister faces a tough re-election race. Netanyahu had already been facing criticism from politicians of the left and the right for being too soft on Hamas.

What is Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007. The Islamist group has an armed and political wing and is on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations. Islamic Jihad is a smaller Islamist group active in Gaza.

Hamas in a bind: Gazans protested last week against the territory's severe economic crisis in a rare show of public anger against Hamas. The group has struggled to rekindle the economy amid an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and sanctions issued by its rival organization in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority.

jcg/amp (Reuters, dpa)

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