Gaza rocket strikes central Israel, 7 injured including 2 children and infant

At least seven people were wounded, including an infant, by a rocket attack on central Israel from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning. Israel launched a retaliatory strike later that evening.

By World Israel News Staff and Associated Press

An early morning rocket from the Gaza Strip struck a house in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people, an attack that could set off another round of violence shortly before the Israeli election. Israel launched a retaliatory strike later that evening.

It was around 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning that sounds of air raid sirens woke residents of the Sharon region, northeast of Tel Aviv, sending them hurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said it was treating seven people, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.

It was later reported that four of the family dogs were killed in the attack.

The attack comes 10 days after rockets were fired toward Israel’s densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv. The Israeli military at the time struck back in Gaza and the sides appeared to be moving toward another confrontation. But Gaza’s Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidentally and calm was quickly restored.

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Hamas denied responsibility for Monday’s attack, and warned of a harsh response should Israel attack.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction and possesses a large arsenal of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel. The territory is home to other terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed armed organization that also has a formidable rocket arsenal.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming out of the coastal territory.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the terrorist group seized power in the strip in 2007. Smaller flare-ups have occurred sporadically since Israel and Hamas fought their last war in 2014.

The outburst comes at a sensitive time for both sides. Israel is holding national elections in 15 days. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in a tight fight for re-election and could face heavy criticism from his opponents if he is seen as ineffective against the terrorists.

Netanyahu was to appear before the AIPAC event on Tuesday but announced that he was cutting short his visit to the U.S. in the aftermath of the latest violence from Gaza. He kept his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan.

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His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, prior to speaking at AIPAC on Monday, called on Netanyahu to return home immediately to deal with the crisis.

“The reality in which Hamas turned Israel into a hostage is unprecedented and unfathomable,” he wrote on Twitter. “Netanyahu has to pack up now and return to Israel to handle this serious escalation.”

In Gaza, Hamas has come under rare public criticism and protests for the harsh conditions in the territory. An Israel-Egyptian blockade, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority and mismanagement by the Hamas government have fueled an economic crisis in the territory. Residents have little desire for another war with Israel.