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The Latest: Hamas threatens to respond to Israeli strikes

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on developments in Israel and the Palestinian territories (all times local):

6:35 p.m.

Hamas’ leader says his group will respond if Israel retaliates too forcefully to an overnight rocket strike.

Ismail Haniyeh said in a written statement Monday that the Palestinian people “will not surrender” and its militant factions “will deter the enemy if it exceeds the red lines.”

Haniyeh’s statement came as Israel began striking targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the early morning rocket attack, which wounded seven people in a small town north of Tel Aviv.

Hamas’ leaders went into hiding, police and security installations were evacuated and hospitals in Gaza were on alert in anticipation of the Israeli airstrikes.


6:30 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister says his country has begun responding “forcefully” to a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the White House, Benjamin Netanyahu said he will “not tolerate” the rocket strike, which struck a home in central Israel early Monday and wounded seven people.

“As we speak,” he said, “Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.”

He says Israel will do “whatever we must do” to defend itself.


6 p.m.

Israel’s military says it has started striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket hit a house in central Israel earlier in the day, wounding seven people.

The military said Monday that Israeli forces “started striking Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”

The barrage begins as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House.


5:15 p.m.

Israeli authorities are taking precautions ahead of a likely military retaliation against the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers after a rocket struck an Israeli house, wounding seven.

Local authorities in southern Israel started readying bomb shelters Monday ahead of possible hostilities.

Israeli media are reporting that flights to and from Israel’s main international airport were diverted from their normal flight paths, and train services to several southern cities near the Gaza Strip have been canceled. The Israeli military has also closed several roads around Gaza.

Monday’s rocket was the second launched toward central Israel in recent weeks, and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington.


4 p.m.

The U.N. Mideast envoy has condemned the firing of a rocket from Gaza into Israel.

Nickolay Mladenov called the overnight strike, which wounded seven people, “absolutely unacceptable.” He tweeted Monday that the U.N. is working “intensely” with Egyptian mediators and “all sides” to stave off a looming escalation but that “the situation remains very tense.”

Efforts by Egypt and the U.N. to restore a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have halted bouts of cross-border violence in the past.


3 p.m.

The Israeli military says it will halt agricultural work near the security fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip “to improve readiness” for an escalation after an overnight rocket attack.

The military said Monday it would block routes and areas on the Israeli side of the fence and requested that residents “follow security instructions as long as necessary.” Thousands of acres of Israeli farmland lie adjacent to the Gaza frontier.

A long-range rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people early Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a tough response while Gaza’s Hamas leaders went into hiding, setting the stage for a possible major conflagration just two weeks before Israeli elections.


1:30 p.m.

The World Health Organization has delivered medical supplies to the Gaza Strip to address the blockaded territory’s growing trauma and emergency care needs.

The organization said on Monday that the aid shipment, donated by the European Union, would cover the needs of up to 120,000 patients injured during demonstrations and protests.

It cited shortages of medical supplies in Gaza’s stressed health care system, exacerbated by recent hostilities. Close to 190 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during Hamas-orchestrated weekly rallies along the Israel-Gaza border fence.

WHO says it’s scaling up its trauma care resources and appealing for funding ahead of a potential escalation and the one year anniversary of the protest movement at the end of the month.


12: 50 p.m.

A Palestinian journalist who exposed Gaza’s government corruption has been acquitted by a Hamas-run court in the coastal territory.

The 34-year-old Hajar Harb had appealed a six-month prison term and fine on charges of libel and slander over her reporting. Rights groups had criticized the case as a violation of free speech in the enclave.

Harb’s 2016 report highlighted misconduct at the Hamas-run health ministry, where healthy people purportedly paid doctors to help them circumvent Gaza’s Israeli-Egyptian blockade by issuing referrals to hospitals abroad. The ministry denied Harb’s claims and urged doctors to file lawsuits against her.

Harb celebrated her acquittal Monday, calling it “the most beautiful thing.”

Rights groups charge that fair litigation is not guaranteed in Hamas’ judiciary system. Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007.


10:45 a.m.

The Israeli military says it is reinforcing troops along the Gaza border and calling up reserves after a rocket attack on an Israeli home.

Maj. Mika Lifshitz, a military spokeswoman, says two armor and infantry brigades were being mobilized and that there is a limited drafting of reserves underway following the attack early on Monday.

She says the military has concluded that Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers fired the rocket from one of their launching pads in the southern part of the coastal strip, near Rafah. She says it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of 120 kilometers, or about 75 miles.

The attack destroyed a home in central Israel, wounding seven people and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington.


8:15 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s cutting short his visit to Washington after a Gaza rocket attack on Israel.

Netanyahu described Monday morning’s rocket launch that struck a home in central Israel as a “criminal attack” and vowed to strike back hard. He says he will return to Israel to handle the crisis shortly after meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday.

An Israeli rescue service said the rocket from the Gaza Strip struck a house in central Israel, wounding seven people.

The sounds of air raid sirens woke up the residents of the residential Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong explosion followed.


6:15 a.m.

An early morning rocket from the Gaza Strip has struck a house in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people, raising concerns the attack could set off another round of violence shortly before the Israeli election.

The sounds of air raid sirens woke up the residents of the residential Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, on Monday, sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed.

The Israeli military says it identified a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Israeli police say the rocket hit a residential home in the community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, setting off a fire and destroying the house.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said it was treating seven people, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.