Israeli soldiers stand on their tanks near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza with more than 50 strikes overnight after Hamas militants fired scores of rockets over the border. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Hamas will “pay a heavy price” for a recent spike in rocket attacks, Israel conducted airstrikes early Tuesday. The country is also calling up reservists and planning ground operations.
“No time limit was put on the operation, but senior diplomatic officials said it could be ‘for a long time,’ ” reports the Jerusalem Post. The newspaper adds that Netanyahu says the time has come to “take off the gloves” to fight Hamas.
The moves come as militants are stepping up rocket attacks. The two sides have increased their hostilities since the recent killing of three Israeli teenagers, which sparked a killing of a Palestinian teen in what’s being seen as revenge.
From Jerusalem, NPR’s Linda Gradstein reports:
“Of the 60 rockets fired from Gaza overnight, several rockets reached Beersheva and Ashkelon, some 25 miles from Gaza, in what Israeli officials saw as an escalation.
“Israel called up some 1,500 reservists, which seemed to mean that Israeli officials believe the tensions with the Islamist Hamas in Gaza will continue.
“An Israeli army spokesman said that in the Israeli airstrikes overnight, Israel destroyed the homes of several senior Hamas military men. Palestinian medics reported that at least nine people were wounded, including seven children.
“In Israel, the anti-missile system Iron Dome shot down some of the rockets headed for populated areas. There were no reports of casualties or damage.”
The Israeli Defense Force has posted video online of two airstrikes from last night, attacks that it says targeted the “activity sites” of two Hamas members involved in conducting rocket fire from Gaza. Helicopters and warplanes took part in dozens of other attacks.
It seems that in at least one case, the activity site was a house — and that the occupants got a phone call telling them to get out before it was bombed.
“Witnesses said a house bombed in Khan Younis was flattened. The Palestinian Health Ministry said nine neighbors were wounded by debris from that strike.
“The Palestinian Interior Ministry said the family in the targeted home had received a telephone call from an Israeli intelligence officer asking them to leave the house because it would be bombed, and the family evacuated in time.”