Netanyahu Warns Israel May Broaden Gaza Military Operation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army may expand operations in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fired more than 160 rockets over the border and Israeli airstrikes killed at least 22 Gaza residents.
“Whoever intends to harm our citizens, we will strike at him,” Netanyahu today told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The military “is ready to expand its operations and continue them as necessary.”
This month’s bloodshed began with a March 9 Israeli airstrike on what the army said were two militants planning an attack from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai, including Zuhir al- Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees. The fighting has been the worst since August, when eight Israelis were killed in an attack near the resort of Eilat and at least 24 Palestinians died in subsequent airstrikes.
Airstrikes on the Hamas-controlled territory killed at least four Palestinians in the past 24 hours. Gaza health official Adham Abu Selmeya told reporters that two militants and three civilians were killed and 45 people injured. Israel disputed its involvement in the death of one of those killed, saying its aircraft weren’t active in the area where it was reported. The air force targeted a number of militants, rocket- launching sites and weapons storage facilities, the army said in an e-mailed statement.
Many of those who died in Gaza were members of Islamic Jihad, a small, militant group supported by Iran and considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. Israel said it holds Hamas, which rules Gaza, responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory.