By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by VOA News’ Scott Bobb in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife/VOA News)– Israeli aircraft hit Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip late Thursday, August 19, killing six people, in retaliation for deadly attacks against Israelis earlier in the day.
Those killed in the air-strikes included leaders of the militant Popular Resistance Committee, which the Israeli government blamed for attacks in southern Israel in which seven Israelis died Thursday, August 19.
Speaking on national television, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the violence in southern Israel an increase in the terror front.
He said, “if there is someone who thinks Israel will accept this, they are wrong. When they harm the citizens of Israel, we react immediately and with force.” He added that, “those who gave the order to murder our citizens, and who hide in Gaza are dead.”
The Israeli air force struck in Gaza a few hours after gunmen attacked a bus, several private cars and a military vehicle some 20 kilometers (32 miles) from the southern Israeli town of Eilat, a popular sea resort.
Israel officials said the attackers came from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, the Palestinian movement which controls Gaza, denied responsibility for the attacks.
The Israeli military said most of the Israelis killed were in a private car attacked near Eilat.
The driver of another vehicle that was hit by gunfire, Ahron Gorden, told Israeli radio that the attack happened while he was “traveling on the highway along Israel’s border with Egypt.” He said he was “approaching an Israeli army checkpoint and saw what looked like an Egyptian soldier lying” on the ground. “I thought the soldier was praying but then the man started shooting, destroying the windows of my car and frightening my children.”
Israeli Special Forces were deployed and security forces closed roads around Eilat while troops pursued the gunmen.
(Scott Bobb is the Voice of America (VOA) correspondent in Jerusalem).