In what is reported to be the largest single attack since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, 25 mortar shells were launched into Israel on Monday, The Times of Israel reported.
Although Israeli Defense Forces said no one was injured by the mortar shells, most of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system, one landed outside a kindergarten schoolyard only one hour before children were to arrive.
“Adva Klein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, said she only got about two hours of sleep because of the frequent incoming fire and the sirens warning of them,” Fox News reported. “Other residents reported machine gun fire from Gaza as well.”
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group took responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for the IDF’s killing of three of its members earlier in the week.
“We are sticking to the right of return as well as responding to the Zionist crimes,” Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that those responsible for the attacks will pay.
“Israel will exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm it and we see Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks,” he said.
On Tuesday, only hours after the mortar attacks, Israeli jets bombarded a militant position in Gaza — specifically the training site for the Islamic Jihad militant group believed to be the source of the attacks.
Various other political figures across Israel responded to the attack.
“The firing of mortars at a kindergarten is the most serious red line,” said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Former Labor party leader Amir Peretz, a resident of the Gaza border area, called for the IDF to respond “very severely, more than before. It doesn’t matter if it’s Islamic Jihad or Hamas. Hamas is the ruler of the Strip and it must pay the price.”
As reported by Fox News, the border area between Israel and Gaza has seen intense fighting in recent weeks, with Palestinians holding mass protests led by Hamas.
“Israeli fire has killed more than 110 Palestinians, most of them during the Hamas-led protests, which climaxed on May 14,” Fox reported. “Hamas, however, has vowed to continue the border rallies.”
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