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March 25, 2019 1:30 pm

Israel Launches Retaliatory Operation Against Hamas in Gaza, Shelters Open Across Country, Ground Troops Moved to Border Area

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on March 25, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem.

Israel launched a major retaliatory operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Monday evening after a rocket destroyed a home and wounded seven in a town in central Israel earlier in the day.

According to Hebrew news website Mako, the Israel Defense Forces struck Hamas terror targets across the entire length of the Strip, using “massive” ordinance, indicating that the security establishment has decided on a major operation.

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that among the targets were the offices of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, which were completely destroyed. Also hit was the “secret headquarters” of Hamas’ intelligence services.

Thus far, no ground forces have entered Gaza, and most of the operations are being carried out by attack helicopters. Hamas has remained belligerent in its response, with Haniyeh saying, “We will respond to every crossing of red lines on Israel’s part.”

Following the Israeli strikes, a heavy salvo of rockets was reportedly fired at communities in the Gaza border region. Several rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel’s Channel 13 reported that a house in the border town of Sderot was struck, but there were no injuries.

According to Israel’s Walla news website, the IDF Homefront Command is making preparations for further Hamas rocket fire into the country, ordering shelters to be opened across southern Israel. Municipal officials in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, have taken the initiative and ordered shelters to be opened in their areas as well.

In addition, Iron Dome missile defense batteries have been deployed throughout southern and central Israel, train schedules have been changed, schools will hold classes in sheltered areas, and only businesses with shelters will be permitted to open.

The IDF has blocked off highways and roads along the Gaza border fence, and all agricultural work has been stopped. Ground forces have been dispatched to the border area, including two infantry and armored brigades.

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