A rocket was fired on Wednesday, Dec. 25, from the Gaza strip and into southern Israel toward the city of Ashkelon, where Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attending a campaign event. He was rushed offstage, and into a bomb shelter, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed at least one rocket had been fired into Israel.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 25, 2019
As Netanyahu was rushed to safety, his place on the stage was replaced by the culture minister and several other officials. He returned to the rally a short time afterward, reported the Jerusalem Post.
“The person that shot at us before is no longer with us,” said Netanyahu, referring to Islamic jihad senior commander Bahu Abu al-Ata. “Whoever shot at us now should pack up his belongings,” Netanyahu reportedly said after he returned.
Bahu Abu al-Ata, who was killed as he slept in his home in eastern Gaza last month, was responsible for several recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and had been planning new attacks, according to the IDF. His death sparked two days of violence between Israel and Gaza, reported Fox News.
Netanyahu is the leader of the Likud party; it was preparing to hold its primary on Thursday, choosing between Netanyahu and challenger Gideon Saar.
Israel is nearing its third election in just one year, after Israel’s government was unable to form a governing coalition, for the first time in its history.
Wednesday’s rocket attack has no known casualties, and it was not immediately apparent who is responsible. There was a similar rocket attack on Ashdod in September, as Netanyahu held a rally there, the Post reported.
Following the Sept. 17 vote, Netanyahu’s Likud party and rival Blue and White, led by former military commander Benny Gantz, had failed to form a coalition.
After the Wednesday attack, Ganz tweeted, “The situation in which Israeli citizens are at the mercy of terrorists, and the Israeli prime minister cannot patrol part of his country is a certificate of poverty for the southern security policy, and a loss of deterrence that no sovereign state can accept.”
He added, “We will replace the government, change the policy, and restore deterrence and quiet to the people of the south.”