20:15 GMT19 February 2020
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    Israeli Defence Forces reported on Wednesday that they had attacked two Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip in response to the launch of three rockets fired from Gaza. Before that, the IDF stated that they had intercepted two missiles that were fired toward the Israeli port cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod where nearly half a million people reside.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Thursday morning that Israel will launch an operation in Gaza. In an interview with Kan radio ahead of his trip to Moscow, the Prime Minister said that Israel would have to topple the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas if left with no other options.

    "There will be an operation, but I will not embark on it a moment before we are ready. I don't operate in tweets. But there apparently will be no choice but to topple Hamas", Netanyahu said.

    At the same time, Netanyahu reprimanded his own ministers for urging the IDF to attack Hamas.

    "Stop agitating for an operation in Gaza", the Prime Minister said in the interview.

    Netanyahu's comments came as he was forced to cut short an election rally in Ashdod, when rocket sirens sounded, prompting the Prime Minister's security guards to evacuate him from the stage.

    According to the IDF, two rockets were fired from Gaza towards the Israeli port cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod; the Iron Dome air defence system successfully destroyed both.

    The incident comes following Netanyahu's announcement in which he said he intended to annex large parts of the West Bank in case of his re-election in the vote on 17 September.

    The Israelis and Palestinians have been in conflict for years, as Palestinians have been seeking diplomatic recognition for an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has refused to recognise the Palestinian Authority as an autonomous political and diplomatic entity and continues to construct settlements in the areas despite criticism from the United Nations.


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