Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed nineteen Palestinians and four Israelis.
Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip on Sunday as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.
A 34-year-old Hamas commander was killed in what the Israeli military described as a targeted strike. An army statement accused Hamad al-Khodori of “transferring large sums of money” from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.
He was the fifth Palestinian reported killed on Sunday. Other Palestinian victims included a pregnant woman and her one-year-old niece, who were both killed in Gaza on Saturday.
In the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a 58-year-old Israeli man was killed after being struck by shrapnel from a rocket attack. Two other Israelis, critically wounded in a separate rocket attacks on a factory on Sunday afternoon, later died.
“This morning I instructed the IDF [the Israeli Army] to continue with massive strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defence minister, said in a statement after consulting with his security cabinet on Sunday.
He said he had also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza, a move that raised fears of a ground invasion.
“Hamas is responsible not only for its attacks against Israel, but also for the Islamic Jihad’s attacks, and it is paying a very heavy price for it,” Netanyahu added.
Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions on Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip