Terrorists in Gaza launched two barrages of rockets into Israel’s main cities Tuesday evening, prompting Israel’s government to call up reservists and prepared for combat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israeli will do all in its power to protect itself.
In the first round of attacks, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv as the Israeli Dome rocket defense system intercepted a rocket near Tel Aviv, over the city of Rishon Lezion. This is the first time air raid sirens have sounded in a central Israeli city amid the recent escalations.
According to the Israeli Defense Forces, 40 percent of the Israeli population is now within firing range of Hamas rockets. Residents in the south of Israel have been warned to stay within a short distance of bomb shelters ta all times. Once an air siren goes off, residents have only fifteen seconds to reach a shelter.
Since Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, during which Israel attacked Hamas in response to rocket fire against Israeli civilians, the terrorist organization Hamas has added over 10,000 rockets and missiles. Hamas produces some of these rockets in Gaza, but most come from Iran. The rockets have a 75 kilometer radius, and threaten 3.5 million Israelis.
On Tuesday night, Israel came under a second heavy barrage of rocket fire, causing code red sirens to sounds in central Israel, the areas surrounding Jerusalem and in the north as far as Binyaina. Over forty rockets were forced into the country from Gaza, in the largest ever influx of long-range rocket fire from Hamas.
The Iron Dome Defense system intercepted the majority of rockets, and no injuries or damages were reported as a result of the second round of terrorist attacks of the day.
Following the attacks, the Home Front Command ordered the Tel Aviv Municipality to open public bomb shelters in the city.
Netanyahu has said that the operation against Hamas “may take time.”
“From the perspective of the terrorist organizations, all of Israel is part of one front, and all Israeli citizens are targets,” Netanyahu said in a recorded video statement. “Therefore we must stand together as one — united and sure of the justice of our cause. We are acting with determination and assertively to return the quiet, and we will continue to do so until the quiet is restored, so that our citizens and children can live in security.”
Netanyahu also stressed the importance of security in the region, stating, “We are not eager for battle, but the security of our citizens and children takes precedence over all else.”
These attacks ironically occurred the day that President Barack Obama published an op-ed in the left-wing Israeli English-language newspaper, Haaretz. In the op-ed, Obama called for peace in the region as a means to security, stating that the United States would work with both sides to help achieve this goal.
“For all that Israel has accomplished, for all that Israel will achieve, Israel cannot be complete and it cannot be secure without peace.” Obama wrote. (RELATED: Amid Rising Tensions In The Holy Land, Obama Publishes Op-Ed)
In the article, Obama praised Palestinian leader Muhammad al-Abbas, but not Netanyahu, stating that, “In President Abbas, Israel has a counterpart committed to a two-state solution and security cooperation with Israel.”
In a White House press release, released Tuesday evening, the administration stated that it would continue to remain committed to Israel’s security, as well as the security of the region.
“Our commitment to Israeli security means not just working closely with Israel to ensure its military edge, but doing all we can to deal with developments in the region that threaten Israel’s security as well as our own.”
The White House reiterated that their priorities are to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon, reduce threat from Syria and monitor ISIL, as all these threats are potentially dangerous to Israel and the United States alike.
Israel continues to anticipate attacks as they plan a response as apart of Operation Protective Edge.