Palestinian militants launched more than 600 rockets into Israel on Saturday, leading into Sunday. Israel was forced to launch counter attacks, striking hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets along the Gaza Strip, the Times of Israel reported.
The attacks come as Israel prepares to celebrate their Memorial Day and Independence Day this week. Israel is also scheduled to host the Eurovision singing contest later this month, the Associated Press reported.The attacks could deter travelers from visiting the area and taking part in the festivities. Gazans are also preparing to begin Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting, on Monday.
Israel, however, isn't taking Eurovision into account when making military decisions.
"For Eurovision, which is a cultural event, this cannot be a concern. In general, for Israel doesn't have an interest in launching a [full scale] military campaign," Israel's minister of regional cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Haartez. "All of this year we've made endless efforts, and even sustained domestic criticism over the fact that the goal, as presented by the political leadership, has been to come to an arrangement and understandings that will spare us casualties. But it wouldn't occur to me that in a cabinet meeting, or a security forum, that they would consider a musical event, an entertainment event."
Schools have closed and the Israeli army is preparing for the tensions to continue throughout the week.
The Central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion opened bomb shelters for residents.
"We have a security situation, and as the firing radius has expanded," the Mayor of Rishon Letzion, Raz Kinstlich, said."I instructed the bomb shelters to open in order to up our readiness and for the safety of our residents, if needed."
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation at his weekly cabinet meeting.
“First, I would like to send condolences to the family of Moshe Agadi, and to send best wishes for a quick and full recovery to those who were wounded. This morning, I instructed the Israel Defense Forces to continue massive attacks against terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip. I also ordered the reinforcement of the units around the Gaza Strip with armor, artillery and infantry," Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister placed blame solely on Islamic Jihad.
"Hamas bears the responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also for the actions of Islamic Jihad, and it is paying a very heavy price for this," the Prime Minister said. "I ask that Israeli citizens strictly adhere to Home Front Command instructions; these instructions save lives. We are working – and will continue to work – to restore quiet and security to the residents of the south."
State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus released the following statement on the situation:
The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel. We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self defense against these abhorrent attacks.
As noted in the State Department Travel Advisory, U.S. citizens should exercise caution and remain alert to emergency situations.
As of now, three Israeli men and eight Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her infant niece, have been killed.
The Israel Defense Forces have shared pictures and videos on Twitter of what's taking place along the Gaza Strip:
We just targeted Hamed Ahmed Khudari, a Gazan terrorist responsible for transferring Iranian funds to Hamas & PIJ in Gaza, helping fund their rocket fire at Israelis.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 5, 2019
Transferring Iranian money to Hamas & the PIJ doesn’t make you a businessman. It makes you a terrorist. pic.twitter.com/WvGEB16r4h
Wherever you are in the world, whether you are now going to sleep or just starting your day...you need to know that for the second day in a row, Israelis are waking up to rocket fire from Gaza. pic.twitter.com/8kxq0unhsZ— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 5, 2019
WATCH: This house in Be’er Sheva was just destroyed by a rocket launched from Gaza. pic.twitter.com/CrlCPhQpwv— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 5, 2019
What would you do if a rocket exploded in YOUR child's elementary school?— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 4, 2019
Thankfully no child was in this school when a rocket exploded in the courtyard.
This is just one of 250+ rockets that were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians today. pic.twitter.com/UPzZoPBwWt
In the middle of a LIVE broadcast from a home hit by a rocket, this Israeli journalist runs for shelter as 4 more rockets are fired towards where he is reporting. Watch as the Iron Dome intercepts them LIVE on air. pic.twitter.com/t7iWL95Zfe— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 4, 2019
President Donald Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, took to Twitter to show support for Israel.
Hamas & PIJ have engaged in yet another deplorable act of terrorism, indiscriminately firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilian communities. The U.S. stands firmly in support of Israel’s right to self-defense and we call on the international community to do the same.— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) May 5, 2019
When Hamas and PIJ continue to choose terrorism, they prevent the world from trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza and they cause harm to Palestinians.— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) May 5, 2019