Israeli Army Poised for Gaza Ground Attack After Terrorist Missile Barrage

May 5, 2019 Updated: May 6, 2019

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has ordered the military to continue “massive attacks” in Gaza in response to a terrorist missile barrage that killed four Israelis and wounded dozens.

Netanyahu was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying that Hamas, the terrorist group he said was responsible for the more than 600 rockets fired toward Israel over the past 24-plus hours, was paying a “very heavy price.”

The prime minister spoke at a cabinet meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on May 5, The Times reported, saying he had ordered the army to “continue the massive attacks against terror targets in the Gaza Strip and boost the forces around Gaza with ground, armored and artillery forces.”

“Hamas bears responsibility not only for its attacks and actions, but also for the Islamic Jihad actions, and it is paying a very heavy price for it,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also expressed condolences to the family of 58-year-old Moshe Agadi, identified as the first Israeli to be killed in hostilities since 2014. Since then, at least two more civilian Israeli deaths from the barrage have been reported, with some accounts reporting a fourth death.

In a targeted attack, Israel also killed Hamas commander Hamed al-Khoudary.

IDF Destroys ‘Hamas HQ’

The Israeli military was cited by The Times as saying that in its response, it had targeted operatives belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group (PIJ).

“An IDF (Israel Defense Forces) aircraft attacked members of the PIJ terror group who were in a munitions warehouse in the southern Strip,” the army said in a statement cited by The Times.

Earlier, the IDF posted a video on Twitter showing a building identified as a “Hamas HQ,” explaining, “In this building, Hamas used to order terror attacks and used to transfer money, supplies & logistics for the sake of killing Israelis.”

The IDF said it had destroyed the building.

‘Dozens Wounded’

Earlier, air raid sirens sent Israelis in the country’s south, near Gaza, running to their shelters through the night as interceptor missiles blew up rockets in the sky.

The latest round of violence began May 3, when a PIJ sniper fired at Israeli troops, wounding two soldiers, according to the Israeli military.

Israel retaliated with an air strike that killed two terrorists from the armed Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Since May 4, Hamas and PIJ terrorists fired more than 600 rockets at Israeli villages and cities, according to Haaretz. Israel hit back with tank shelling and air strikes at some 200 targets in Gaza.

Israeli bombings in Gaza shook buildings and sent Palestinians fleeing for cover. The PIJ said two of its fighters were killed in an Israeli pre-dawn raid.

According to Haaretz, 19 Palestinians have been killed and dozens more injured as a result of Israeli retaliatory strikes. A pregnant woman and a one-year-old baby were among the casualties, according to the report.

The Independent cited Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli army, as saying Israeli intelligence determined that the pregnant woman and the baby had been killed by a Palestinian rocket.

‘Double War Crime’

“Wherever you are in the world, whether you are now going to sleep or just starting your day … you need to know that for the second day in a row, Israelis are waking up to rocket fire from Gaza,” the IDF wrote on Twitter.

The post contains a clip with footage of rocket launches and strikes along with a message, “The lives of men, women, and children in Israel are at risk.”

“This is why: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations in Gaza are firing hundreds of rockets from civilian areas in Gaza towards civilian areas in Israel. This double war crime indiscriminately targets Israeli civilians while putting the Gazan people at risk. Hamas and PIJ’s use of human shields is inhumane and their targeting of Israeli civilians is a crime.”

Conricus said on May 4 that Israel was prepared to intensify its defensive actions. He added that PIJ was trying to destabilize the border, blaming Hamas for failing to rein it in.

In a joint statement, Hamas and PIJ said, “Our response will be broader and more painful if the enemy pursues its aggression.”

Aerial exchanges have been frequent between Hamas and Israel over the past five years.

US Condemns Terror Attacks

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem condemned the rocket attacks launched from Gaza.

“The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel,” the embassy wrote in a tweet.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, “We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self-defense against these abhorrent attacks.”

A State Department travel advisory urges U.S. citizens to be careful if traveling to Israel and to “remain alert to emergency situations.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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