PM says Hamas to suffer ‘unexpected blows’ after 2 Israelis killed from rockets

Gaza terrorists fire over 250 rockets into Israel in less than 24 hours. Hamas threatens to turn Ashkelon “into hell,” says will use “new weapons” in further escalation. Defense Minister Gantz greenlights IDF plans for a wide-scale assault on terror targets in the Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command on Tuesday hours after Hamas and other terrorist groups started firing incessant barrages on Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the command headquarters, Netanyahu said, “We will increase our strikes and their intensity; Hamas will be dealt unexpected blows.”

Netanyahu added that the IDF has carried out “hundreds of attacks against Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad” and noted that Israel “has assassinated commanders and hit many high-quality targets” in the first 2 days of Operation Guardian of the Wall, which began on Monday.

Two civilians were killed in Ashkelon following a massive barrage around noon on Tuesday, Israeli first responders said following the rocket attacks from Gaza.

The cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod were hit with dozens of rockets from 1 p.m. onwards until roughly 2 p.m., resulting in some casualties, mostly treated for minor injuries and shock, as well as direct hits on various buildings, as well as a school in Ashkelon, whose residents were told to remain in shelter until further notice.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday greenlighted the IDF’s plans for continued airstrikes on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip following a massive rocket barrage on Israel’s south. He further signed off on calling up 5,000 reservists as the military campaign may expand in the coming days.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired over 250 rockets into Israel since Monday night, as the Israeli military mounted multiple strikes against Hamas positions as well as hubs operated by other terrorist groups in the coastal enclave, killing 15 terrorists and destroying over 130 targets as of Tuesday morning.

The IDF said that the targets destroyed included weapon mills, several arsenals, training facilities, two terror tunnels, a Hamas intelligence-gathering office, and the home of a senior Hamas operative. The military campaign has been given an official name: Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Hamas launched a rocket barrage on the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon in the early hours of Tuesday morning, saying it was retaliation over IDF strikes on a civilian apartment block near Gaza city.

Video showed dozens of rockets being fired at the city as the Iron Dome defense system engaged immediately. Still, at least two buildings in Ashkelon sustained a direct hit. Paramedics reported five people sustained minor injuries and one in serious condition.

Hamas said in a statement that it will “turn Ashkelon into hell” if the IDF continues to target civilian buildings in Gaza.

The Islamist terrorist group said it would “use new weapons” in any further escalation. One of Hamas’ TV channels said the current flare-up includes the use of Iranian-made A-120 rockers, which have a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles).

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. General Hidai Zilberman said in a statement that the military struck 130 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, killing 15 terrorists.

“The campaign in Gaza is one that we have been preparing for,” he said, adding that of the 200 projectile fired at Israel so far, 90% have been intercepted and dozens landed inside the Strip.

“There are many casualties in Gaza as a result of these misfires,” he noted.

Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at Ashkelon, May 10, 2021

Zilberman noted that the IDF plans to “continue its high-intensity strikes over the coming day. We have bolstered the deployment of Iron Dome batteries in the southern and central sectors. We are ready for any scenario, including a wide-scale escalation.”

Addressing reports that Palestinian civilians have been killed in IDF strikes, Zilberman said, “We’re doing everything we can to avoid such incidents, but Hamas hides amid civilians.

Sirens wailed across communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border almost nonstop starting at 6 p.m. Monday.

On Monday night, a home in the southern community in Shaar Hanegev Regional Council also sustained a direct hit, with only minor injuries recorded.

An Israel airstrike on terror targets in Gaza Strip, May 10, 2021 (AFP)

Gantz declared a “special security situation” in an area stretching 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border, placing parts of central Israel on alert as well. Schools were canceled in dozens of cities. The Home Front Command has instructed the residents of southern Israel to remain near fortified areas.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement saying the terrorist group has “changed the balance of power on the ground. We will prevail against any external threat from the forces of the occupation.

“The link between Gaza and Jerusalem is fixed and it will not change. When Jerusalem asked for our help, we heeded the call. We have decided to continue the struggle unless the occupation stops all expressions of aggression and terrorism in Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

A statement by the Islamic Jihad said, “Israel started the aggression against Jerusalem, and if the aggression against Jerusalem does not stop, then there is no point to any ceasefire efforts.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel should stop “immediately.” He urged all sides to take steps to reduce tensions.

The United Nations Security Council held an urgent meeting Monday on the unrest in Jerusalem but issued no immediate statement, with diplomats saying the United States believed public comments would be counterproductive.

The negotiations among the 15 nations on the Security Council were over a text that could be watered down from an initial draft proposed by Norway, diplomats said.

The United States, according to one diplomat, said in the closed-door video conference that it was “working behind the scenes” to calm the situation and that it was “not sure that a statement at this point would help.”

After further discussion on the possibility of a joint text calling for de-escalation of the violence, several diplomats told AFP there would be no Security Council statement Monday.

“The United States is engaging constructively to ensure any action by the Security Council is helpful in de-escalating tensions,” a spokesperson for the US mission to the UN said.

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