7 wounded near Tel Aviv in long-range Gaza rocket attack | The Daily Star
04:40 PM, March 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:43 PM, March 25, 2019

7 wounded near Tel Aviv in long-range Gaza rocket attack

--Israel says rocket was fired from Gaza

--Netanyahu to meet Trump as planned and then fly home

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--Tensions high ahead of Gaza border protests anniversary

--Violence comes some two weeks before Israeli election

A long-range rocket launched from the Gaza Strip struck a house in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people in the first such incident since a 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave, Israeli authorities said.

The early morning attack on Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, came at a time of high tension ahead of the anniversary of Gaza border protests at the weekend, and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Washington as he campaigns for a fifth term in an April 9 ballot.

Israel's commercial capital and outlying communities had last come under such an attack during the 2014 war with Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it was treating six occupants of a home in Mishmeret, including an infant, for wounds. TV images showed a building with extensive damage, and police said it had also been set aflame.

The strike came minutes after the Israeli military activated air raid sirens in the area and said one rocket had been launched out of the Gaza Strip, a coastal territory 50 miles (80 km) away where Hamas and other factions possess such weapons.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said the home in Mishmeret was hit by a rocket from Gaza.

There was no immediate Palestinian confirmation.

Two rockets were launched at Tel Aviv on March 14 but caused no casualties or damage, Israel said. It blamed the rocket launches on Hamas, though a security official who declined to be identified by name or nationality later said that the salvo, which missed any built-up areas, had been set off by accident.

There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu on Monday's incident.

His chief rival in next month's election, centrist ex-general Benny Gantz, issued a statement accusing the rightist premier of having "bankrupted national security".

NETANYAHU TO CUT US VISIT SHORT AFTER ROCKET ATTACK

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he will cut short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv wounded seven people.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the projectile was fired from Gaza, an enclave controlled by the militant Hamas group, and Netanyahu said Israel would respond forcefully.

Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit ahead of an April 9 Israeli election, said he would fly home immediately after meeting President Donald Trump at the White House, as planned, later on Monday.

"In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the US," Netanyahu said, calling the rocket fire a "heinous attack".

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