'A criminal attack on Israel, we will respond with force'

Netanyahu vows tough response to rocket attack on central Israel that left 7 injured. 'We will respond forcefully to this criminal attack.'

David Rosenberg ,

Netanyahu in Washington
Netanyahu in Washington
Prime Minister's Office

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed Monday morning to “respond forcefully” to a rocket attack on central Israel overnight that left seven people injured.

Speaking from Washington ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, Netanyahu said he had been updated by telephone regarding Israel’s security situation, and was preparing to return home early.

"Several minutes ago I concluded a telephone update and consultation with the Chief-of-Staff, the head of the ISA Director and the head of the NSC. There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully. In light of the security events I have decided to cut short my visit to the US. In a few hours I will meet with President Trump; I will return to Israel immediately afterwards in order to manage our actions from close at hand."

Netanyahu had been scheduled to address the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington on Tuesday, but cancelled his appearance following the rocket attack.

The New Right faction of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked issued a statement Monday morning, lamenting the ‘collapse’ of Israel’s deterrence, claiming that Prime Minister Netanyahu “has failed against Hamas”.

"Israel's deterrence has collapsed, and it has to be said in all honesty, Netanyahu has failed against Hamas. Releasing terrorists, scared to destroy the homes of terrorists, restraint in the face of the rockets on the south - all of which led Hamas to stop being afraid of Israel.”

“Netanyahu is a good prime minister but a failed defense minister. Under his tenure he appointed defense ministers Barak, Ya’alon and Lieberman, and himself - and they all failed.”

“The time has come to appoint Bennett as defense minister in order to defeat Hamas.”

During the attack early Monday morning, at least one rocket landed in the Sharon region in central Israel, hitting a home in the Moshav Mishmeret. A 60-year-old woman was wounded by shrapnel and suffering burns from the rocket’s explosion, leaving her in moderate condition. A 30-year-old woman is also said to be in moderate condition after suffering shrapnel wounds. Five others are listed in light condition.

The attack marks a major escalation in tensions between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. While terrorist groups operating in the coastal enclave have fired hundreds of rockets towards Israeli territory, the vast majority have targeted areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip in Israel’s south, and have mostly landed in unpopulated areas.

Monday’s attack, however, targeted the Sharon region in central Israel, some 50 miles from the Gaza Strip – a far more densely populated area than the Gaza envelope region.