Netanyahu: ‘IDF struck Hamas with hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge’

Following a day of rockets launched at Israel from Gaza, the IDF attacked Hamas with the heaviest strikes since the 2014 summer war.

By: TPS and World Israel News

In the largest strike on the Gaza Strip since the 2014 Gaza war, IDF jets hit some 40 Hamas targets Saturday afternoon as dozens of rockets were fired into Israel.

“In consultation with the Minister of Defense, the Chief-of-Staff and the top security command of the State of Israel, we have decided on strong action against Hamas terrorism. The IDF has struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Saturday evening.

The IDF said it attacked four Hamas military compounds in a third wave of strikes following attacks overnight Friday and early Saturday morning.

Among the targets was a Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip where the IDF said it had hit an urban warfare training compound, ammunition storage depots and command centers.  According to the IDF, the strikes also targeted Hamas naval facilities. Unconfirmed Palestinian reports said at least two people had been killed in the strikes.

The IDF said it had also targeted a rocket launch squad and a mortar shell launcher in the northern Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Hamas fired at least 60 rockets and mortars at Israel throughout the day. Around 15 were shot down by Iron Dome missile defense batteries, the rest fell in open fields.

The IDF strikes followed a night of clashes in which the IDF carried out two waves of attacks and Hamas fired some 17 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities in the south. The initial wave of IDF strikes came in response to an incident Friday in which an Israeli officer sustained moderate injuries in a cross border grenade attack as well as ongoing arson attacks.

‘We know how to do this against any battalion’

“In the wake of events overnight we have attacked 40 terrorist targets, including the destruction of the headquarters of the Beit Lahia Battalion,” said Chief IDF Spokesman Brig.Gen Ronen Manelis. “Some 20 terrorist targets in the compound were destroyed… we know how to do this against any battalion, at night or in daylight.”

IAF jets hit a high-rise building in the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip early Saturday evening. An IDF spokesman said the building was used by Hamas for urban warfare training and sat above a tunnel that used for practicing underground combat.

The IDF said that building was hit only after its residents were warned in advance to leave.

A statement added that the strike “was further proof of the IDF’s intelligence and operational capabilities which would be escalated as required.