Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Cuts U.S. Trip Short Following Hamas Rocket Attack

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Posted: Mar 25, 2019 11:10 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Cuts U.S. Trip Short Following Hamas Rocket Attack

Source: AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cutting his visit to the United States short after a rocket attack from Gaza. The announcement was made a little after midnight. The terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, reportedly executed the attack. They fired a long-range rocket into Tel Aviv. A new war could be brewing as reservists have been called up. Five years ago, Israeli troops stormed into the Gaza Strip in a war that lasted some 50 days. The New York Times added that Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s defense minister, has been hammered for his lack of action and policy direction concerning the rocket attacks from Hamas (via NYT):

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel cut short his visit to the United States on Monday, hours after a rocket launched from Gaza struck a house in central Israel, injuring seven people and posing a new challenge to his bid for re-election just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls

The Israeli military said that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, had fired the long-range rocket. The military said it was deploying an additional infantry brigade and an armored brigade to bolster its forces around the territory, and was calling up a limited number of reservists from specialized units, apparently preparing for a possible escalation in the long-simmering cross-border conflict.

The rocket strike presents a test for Mr. Netanyahu, a conservative who also serves as Israel’s defense minister. Both Hamas and Israel have been avoiding another all-out conflict since 50 days of fighting ended in the summer of 2014, but Mr. Netanyahu’s political rivals have been denouncing a lack of decisive action or clear policy regarding Gaza, despite several bouts of rocket fire.

A strong response could protect Mr. Netanyahu politically while helping restore his reputation as a national security hawk. But starting a bloody conflict that could put Israelis under heavy rocket fire and result in Israeli casualties with an election looming would seem to be problematic.

The recent rocket attack didn’t result in any fatalities, though several people were injured. Netanyahu also faces multiple bribery and corruption charges as well.