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Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to rocket attack

Israel has begun striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack that injured a British-Israeli family.

The military confirmed that it had started a bombardment of the territory after an overnight blast in the Mishmeret farming community, north of the city of Kfar Saba, which left seven people wounded.

An Israeli government source confirmed to Sky News that six members of the British-Israeli family were among those injured, including two children, and a house was completely destroyed.

Israel has blamed Hamas for the attack
Image:
Israel blamed Hamas for the attack and has responded

It was the furthest a rocket fired from Gaza has travelled into Israel since the conflict began in 2014, and one of the paramedics first on the scene said it was “a miracle that nobody got killed”.

Hamas said the rocket launch, which came down at 5.25am local time on Monday, was down to “weather problems”.

Israeli military spokesman Mika Lifshitz said that it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of about 75 miles – well beyond the usual capabilities of those fired by Hamas.

The attack came just two weeks after Israel targeted Gaza in response to rockets being fired toward Tel Aviv, but tensions subsided after Hamas insisted it was an accident.

One paramedic said it was a 'miracle' that nobody was killed
Image:
One paramedic said it was a ‘miracle’ that nobody was killed

Ahead of a meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned that there would be a “forceful” response to the latest strike, prompting Hamas leaders to head underground.

Witnesses reported that key personnel were evacuated from government buildings, and the militant group confirmed that its leader in Gaza, Yehiya Sinwar, cancelled a public speech.

Mr Netanyahu will depart the US capital earlier than planned as a result of the strike, and told reporters during a joint press conference with Mr Trump that his country “will not tolerate rocket attacks on its territory”.

Mr Trump – who used the meeting to sign a proclamation officially granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory – backed the response, describing the strike on the house as “despicable”.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are meeting in Washington
Image:
Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are meeting in Washington

It comes just over two weeks before what is set to be a tightly contested Israeli election, with Mr Netanyahu under threat from centrist challenger Benny Gantz.

The prime minister has seen his tough-on-security image suffer some damage because of the recent strikes, and he is also facing allegations of corruption.

He is suspected of accepting gifts, including cigars and champagne, from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favours in return for favourable media coverage.

It is the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been put on official notice of a planned prosecution and he could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted of bribery – and a three-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

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