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Israel Strikes Gaza after Rockets Disrupt Netanyahu Rally

Israel Strikes Gaza after Rockets Disrupt Netanyahu Rally

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019 - 06:00
Smoke and flame are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas positions in Gaza overnight in retaliation for rocket fire across the border, which cut short an election rally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the military said Wednesday.

Netanyahu was hustled off stage when sirens warning of incoming rockets blared in the southern city of Ashdod late Tuesday, public television reported.

It came just hours after the premier pledged to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

Israeli fighter jets "hit 15 terrorist targets in the north and center of the Gaza Strip," including a weapons factory, an attack tunnel and naval targets, the army said.

It said it would "continue to hold Hamas responsible for everything that comes from the Gaza Strip," regardless of who actually fired the weapons. 

Both rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket launches.

Video posted on WhatsApp by Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party showed him returning to the stage after the all-clear and saying that Hamas was scared of him winning next Tuesday's general election.

"If it attacks us on live TV, you understand that it doesn't want us here," he told his audience.

However, the spectacle of the prime minister being forced off the podium added fuel to accusations by political opponents that he has not done enough to halt the frequent cross-border rocket strikes against southern Israel.

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