Israel launches a military operation in the West Bank, Gaza after Hamas launches rocket attack
A military operation has been launched in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants who fired rockets towards the Israeli border city of Ashkelon.
The operation, which began Monday, includes a ground incursion into Gaza and will target Hamas positions in the border area.
It is expected to be completed by Wednesday evening.
It comes after Hamas fired two rockets towards Ashkelons northern border.
Hamas has not yet claimed responsibility for the rockets but Israel has been quick to blame the Islamist group.
The IDF said it was “prepared to use all necessary means” in the war against Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday the rockets were fired by “terrorists,” but did not elaborate.
Hassan Abi-Hassani, a Hamas spokesperson, said that the group had been in contact with Israel and was “under constant pressure to stop its activities” by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
He also denied any involvement in the rockets and said Hamas was trying to “impose terror” on the Jewish state.
Hussain Abu Al-Jafari, a Gaza-based security source, told Al Jazeera that a rocket was fired at Ashkelah late Sunday, hitting a residential building.
The Hamas-run Al-Quds Al-Arabi TV channel reported that two rockets were launched at Ashlons southern suburbs.
Al Jazeera’s Nabil Abu Rudeineh, reporting from the Gaza border, said there were reports that two other rockets were shot at Ashkenazim in northern Israel on Monday.
Hopes for a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed in December after Israel and the Palestinians rejected a cease-fire proposal.
In February, the Palestinian leader said the two sides were in talks to try to reach a lasting deal but were unable to agree on any framework.
The Israeli military said in October that it had killed more than 200 Hamas militants in an operation in Gaza, with the latest raid targeting the group’s headquarters in the northern Gaza Strip.
It said the militants had launched a number of rockets at Israel, with no casualties.
In July, Israel and Gaza launched a joint military operation to destroy rockets and tunnels used by Hamas militants to smuggle arms and ammunition.