(CNSNews.com) – Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired more than 300 rockets towards Israeli communities on Monday – killing at least one Israeli – and as Israel retaliated with airstrikes Hamas threatened to use more advanced projectiles, to bring “about a million Zionists” within range.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported that Iron Dome defenses had intercepted more than 70 of the incoming rockets, but some landed in built-up areas, damaging homes and cars and causing dozens of injuries..
Then early on Tuesday morning, it was reported that a 40-year-old man had been killed when a home in the coastal city of Ashkelon was hit by a rocket. A woman sustained serious injuries in the same blast.
Earlier, an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit a bus inside Israel, seriously wounding a 19-year-old soldier.
“More than one rocket per minute has been fired from Gaza at Israel over the course of two hours,” the IDF Spokesman’s office tweeted a little after 9 PM local time. “Let that sink in.”
Among the terrorist targets struck in retaliatory strikes was Hamas’ military intelligence headquarters. The terrorist group has controlled Gaza since seizing power in 2007 from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority (P.A.) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.
The IDF on Monday also targeted the head office of Hamas’ television outlet, Aqsa TV, which the IDF accused of having “directed attacks, instructed how to do them, and broadcasted incitement and violence for years.”
“Tonight, the IDF made sure that this station won’t broadcast again,” it said.
The P.A. news agency WAFA reported that at least three missiles fired from Israeli F-16s had struck the television station’s headquarters, “destroying it completely.”
However, the channel resumed broadcasting from another location shortly after the missile strike – which took place after the IDF fired warnings to prompt an evacuation of the building.
“Bombing our headquarters is a crime and will not deter us from our pioneering role in conveying the truth,” Aqsa TV said in a subsequent statement.
It appealed for support from “the international community and international media institutions” in the face of what it called a “blatant assault on media outlets that are interested in transmitting the truth.”
Aqsa TV has since 2010 been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for inciting deadly terrorism, under a post-9/11 executive order that freezes listed entities’ assets in the U.S. and prohibits Americans from engaging in transactions with them.
The department found that the station “airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”
“Treasury will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al-Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself,” then-Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said at the time.
Also on its Twitter feed on Monday night, Aqsa TV quoted a spokesman for Hamas’ Izzedin al-Qassam military wing, known as Abu Obeida, as saying that if “the enemy persists in aggression,” the “resistance factions” will “expand the circle of fire,” and “about a million Zionists will be waiting to enter the circle of our missiles.”
“Resistance factions” is the term used by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Islamic terrorist groups in the Palestinian areas.
Monday’s flare-up occurred a day after an IDF undercover unit was confronted by Hamas gunmen in southern Gaza, and in an ensuring firefight a senior Israeli officer was killed, along with a Hamas commander and six other terrorists.
“Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war,” tweeted Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations. “These rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks.”
“The world has grown tired of Hamas’ violence and the violence of other bad actors in Gaza,” Greenblatt added. “This violence prevents any real help for the people of Gaza.”
‘Incitement to hatred’
In 2010, Aqsa TV lost the right to beam its programs into Europe after the European Union’s executive Commission said the broadcasts were breaking E.U. directives prohibiting incitement to hatred or violence based on race, religion or nationality.
It did so after a group called the Coalition Against Terrorist Media – founded by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) six years earlier – provided E.U. officials with information on the station’s programming.
Hamas appealed to Arab governments to intervene, claiming freedom of the press was under attack.
The FDD disputed that it was an issue of free speech, saying that governments “have a responsibility to protect their citizens.”
Aqsa TV programming monitored by watchdogs like Palestinian Media Watch and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has frequently featured incitement to violence and hatred towards Israelis, including by Hamas officials and Muslim clerics.
Even children’s programming has been controversial. In one 2015 clip recorded and translated by MEMRI, the host of a kids’ show asks a young boy to recite a poem, which he said he learned from his mother.
The boy recites, “Oh Jerusalem, I shall redeem you with my soul and my blood. I shall liberate you from the Jews by means of the Al-Qassam Brigades, of course. I bring glad tidings to our prisoners: Salvation is near.”
“May Allah grant long life to such a mother,” says the host.
She also asks the boy what he wants to be when he grows up, and he replies that he wants to be a member of Al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing.
The host asks another young boy the same question.
“An engineer,” he replies.
“An engineer?” she asks. “Why do you want to become an engineer?”
“So that I can blow up the Jews.”