Israeli PM Netanyahu Rushed to Safety After Rocket Sirens Sound at Campaign Event in Ashdod
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed off a stage by bodyguards on Tuesday night after sirens warning of a rocket attack from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip sounded in the southern city of Ashdod, where the Likud leader was holding a campaign event ahead of next week’s Knesset elections.
Netanyahu was unhurt and several minutes later he was able to continue his speech, which was broadcast live on social media.
However, the spectacle of the prime minister being forced off the podium, just a week ahead of next Tuesday’s vote, added fuel to accusations by political opponents that he has not done enough to halt frequent cross-border rocket strikes against southern Israel.
The Israeli military said two rockets were fired from Gaza Strip toward Ashdod and another port city, Ashkelon, just to the south, and were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
There was no immediately claim of responsibility for the attack, launched shortly after Netanyahu announced a plan to annex part of the West Bank if reelected.
“Exit quietly,” Netanyahu told the crowd before his security detail hustled him away, footage from the event showed. Channel 13 television, which also broadcast the incident, said he was taken to a sheltered area.
Benny Gantz, a former Israeli armed forces chief and head of the centrist Blue and White party that is Likud’s strongest challenger, seized on the rocket strike to needle his opponent.
“Big words are replaced with zero action,” Gantz said in a statement, pledging that if he becomes prime minister he will “not tolerate even one rocket.”
Watch a video of Netanyahu being escorted to safety during Tuesday’s rocket attack below (via Mako):