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Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel Ready to Increase Strikes on Hamas as Necessary

© AP Photo / Gali Tibbon/Pool Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 15, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Sputnik International
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TEL AVIV (Sputnik) - Israel is ready to enhance the strength of airstrikes on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip as necessary, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

The exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Hamas militants began at night, when the Israel Air Force started hitting militants' targets in the Gaza Strip in response to Friday's border riots by Palestinians accompanied with launching of arson balloons and burning kites with the aim to provoke fires in Israel.

​"The IDF has struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary. In consultation with the Minister of Defense, the IDF Chief-of-Staff and the heads of the security services, we have decided on strong action against Hamas terrorism," Netanyahu said in a statement published on Twitter.

Palestinian protesters run to cover from teargas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 6, 2018 - Sputnik International
Israel, Gaza Escalation Put Out as Ceasefire Reached - Reports
Earlier in the day, Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Israeli army’s aerial defense corps, said that since the early hours of Saturday, Hamas militants, supported by Islamic Jihad group, have fired about 100 rockets and projectiles at southern Israel. The Israeli missile defense systems could intercept over 20 projectiles. Haimovich specified that these rockets had posed a real threat for Israeli residential areas and infrastructure.

At least three Israelis were injured in the southern town of Sderot after a rocket launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip hit a residential building in the area, according to Israel's national ambulance service Magen David Adom (MDA).

Gaza Healthcare Ministry spokesman Ashraf Qidra told Sputnik that two Palestinians were killed and 14 were injured as a result of Israeli strikes on Gaza on Saturday.

READ MORE: Sirens Blare in Southern Israel Amid Reports of Rocket Fire From Gaza

Hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians near the Gaza border increased since late March, which marked the beginning of the Palestinian protest campaign against Israel, dubbed the Great March of Return.

According to the Palestinian authorities, some 140 people have been killed and thousands of others wounded by the Israeli forces since then.

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