Resolute to maintain safety in south Israel: Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Jan 20: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the government is resolute in its efforts to maintain southern Israel calm and safe from rocket attacks, Xinhua reported.

“We are determined to maintain quiet in the south,” Netanyahu’s bureau quoted him as saying at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We do so by a policy of preventive action and forceful reaction against those who try to harm us or who harm us.”

“I suggest that Hamas take our policy into account,” he warned.

Netanyahu’s remark came after an air strike in the morning targeted an Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip whom the Israeli military said was directly involved in numerous rocket attacks.

The military named the target as Ahmad Sa’ad, 22, and said that he played a key role in perpetrating rocket attacks against southern Israeli cities and communities bordering Gaza in recent years, including an attack last Thursday in which five projectiles were fired at Ashkelon city and intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.

It was not immediately clear if the militant, who was targeted while riding a motorcycle with another man, had been killed in the strike.

Palestinian sources said he suffered serious head injuries, and that a 12-year-old boy who was standing nearby was moderately injured. Both were evacuated to a local hospital.

The Israeli army said following Sunday’s attempt to target the militant that it “acted to eliminate an imminent threat” to Israeli civilians.

“Sa’ad was personally responsible for the rocket fire on Ashkelon on Thursday, and was engaged in planning additional rocket attacks in the coming days,” it said in a statement.

IANS