Israeli warplanes have struck Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a rocket attack which wounded several members of a British-Israeli family, including two infants, and left their house destroyed.
Robert and Susan Wolf, originally from London, were at home with their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren when the long-range rocket from Gaza struck their home in the early hours of Monday morning.
“If we hadn’t got to the bomb shelter in time I would be burying all my family,” Mr Wolf said, standing outside the wreckage of their home.
His wife suffered a shrapnel wound to the head and his six-month-old granddaughter was also still in hospital. None of the injuries are life-threatening, Israeli authorities said.
The Israeli military said Hamas, the Islamist militant group which controls Gaza, was responsible for firing the rocket and on Monday evening Israeli aircraft began carrying out a large wave of retaliatory strikes.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza vowed to “retaliate immediately and forcefully” raising fears that the two sides could be hurtling back towards a full-blown conflict.
The Israeli strikes began as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was meeting Donald Trump, the US president, at the White House.
“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” Mr Netanyahu said. “I have a simple message to israel’s enemies: we will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state.”
The Israeli military sent reinforcement to the Gaza border in expectation of a potential escalation against Hamas. Hamas fighters abandoned many of their of their border posts.
The rocket struck at around 5.20am, landing a direct hit on the Wolfs’ house in Mishmeret. Seven people were injured in the attack but four have already been released from hospital
Mrs Wolf, 60, suffered shrapnel wounds and is being kept in hospital. A six-month-old girl, understood to be the Wolfs’ granddaughter, is also being kept in hospital.
The family’s two dogs, a German shepherd and a bulldog, were both killed in the blast, a neighbour said.
The Wolfs moved to Israel more than 20 years ago and made their home in Mishmeret, a prosperous town north east of Tel Aviv. Mr Wolf runs a successful glass company in Israel. Standing outside his home, Mr Wolf said his family had made it to a bomb shelter seconds before the rocket struck. “We would all have been dead if we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” he said. He did not comment on what Israel’s response should be but said: “With all the games of politicians – and all the blowing out their chests, and they’re wonderful people and great people who will save us – this is the real price and I just paid it. I nearly lost my family.”
David Quarrey, the UK ambassador to Israel, condemned the rocket strikes, saying “there can be no justification of any kind for this attack”.
“They’re very kind people, very nice and very into the community. They are open-minded good people,” Amit Castelnuovo, a neighbour, said of the Wolfs.
Hamas and other Palestinian factions have periodically fired rockets into Israel since the 2014 war between Israeli forces and Hamas.
However, it is relatively rare for the rockets to cause injuries and Israel is likely to mount a large-scale retaliation in response.
Mr Netanyahu is seeking a fifth-term as prime minister in elections on April 9. He is under pressure from both opponents on both the Right and the Centre to respond forcefully to the attack from Gaza. The source is “the Telegraph”.