Netanyahu cuts short U.S. trip after rocket attack from Gaza

# 20:21
25 March 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to the United States on Monday and the military dispatched reinforcements to the Gaza border after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv wounded seven people, ONA reports quoting Reuters.

Netanyahu threatened a forceful response to the long-range strike amid accusations from opponents in a closely contested Israeli election, two weeks away, that he had been showing weakness in the face of security challenges from Gaza militants.

Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit, said he would fly home right after meeting President Donald Trump at the White House, as planned, later on Monday.

“This was a heinous attack on the State of Israel and we will respond strongly,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.

The Israeli military said Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza, fired the rocket that destroyed a house in Mishmeret, a village north of Tel Aviv.

There was no claim of responsibility for the early morning strike. The military said Hamas launched the rocket from about 120 km (75 miles) away, making it the longest-range attack from Gaza causing casualties since a 2014 war.

Calling the strike “absolutely unacceptable”, U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Twitter the “situation remains very tense”.

A Palestinian official, familiar with Egypt’s efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, said Egyptian security officials “are working to restore calm - they have been doing so before and after today’s rocket”.