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Israel's military strikes Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip

Israel is preparing to launch attacks on Gaza after rocket attack [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 March, 2019

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Israeli authorities are taking precautions ahead of a likely military retaliation against the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers after a rocket struck an Israeli house, wounding seven.
Israel's military says it has started striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket struck a house in central Israel earlier in the day, wounding seven people.

The strikes coincided with the start of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump in the White House.

Trump said at the start of the meeting that Israel had a right to "defend itself", in response to reports about the strikes in Gaza.

Earlier local authorities in southern Israel started readying bomb shelters on Monday ahead of possible hostilities.

Israeli media are reporting that flights to and from Israel’s main international airport were diverted from their normal flight paths, and train services to several southern cities near the Gaza Strip have been canceled.

The Israeli military has also closed several roads around Gaza.

Monday’s rocket was the second launched toward central Israel in recent weeks, and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington.

The UN Mideast envoy condemned the firing of the rocket from Gaza into Israel.

Nickolay Mladenov called the overnight strike, which wounded seven people, “absolutely unacceptable.” He tweeted Monday that the UN is working “intensely” with Egyptian mediators and “all sides” to stave off a looming escalation but that “the situation remains very tense.”

Efforts by Egypt and the UB to restore a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have halted bouts of cross-border violence in the past.

The long-range rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people early Monday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised a tough response while Gaza’s Hamas leaders went into hiding, setting the stage for a possible major conflagration just two weeks before Israeli elections.

Monday's rocket comes just days ahead of the first anniversary on March 30 of Palestinian protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.

An informal truce between Hamas and Israel had led to relative calm along the border, but recent weeks have seen another uptick in violence.

Netanyahu's visit to the United States was expected to include Trump's formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Breaking with longstanding international consensus, Trump said last week that the United States should recognise Israeli sovereignty there.

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