2nd LD-Writethru: Netanyahu evacuated from campaign rally stage amidst air raid sirens

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 11, 2019
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was whisked off the stage of an election rally on Tuesday night after rockets fired from Gaza Strip triggered air raid sirens in the southern city of Ashdod.

The militants in Gaza Strip fired at least two rockets at southern Israel, but both were intercepted by Israel's anti-rocket Iron Dome system, the Israeli army said in a statement.

Video footages taken at the rally showed people running in panic and security guards escorting Netanyahu off the stage.

A spokesperson with Netanyahu's Likud party told Xinhua that Netanyahu later returned to the stage to finish his speech.

The rally was part of the Likud's campaign ahead of the Sept. 17 parliamentary elections.

No group in Gaza immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, which came hours after Netanyahu announced a plan to annex the Jordan Valley and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank right after he wins re-election.

The Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, earlier on Tuesday accused Netanyahu of selling "illusion" to Israeli voters by vowing to annext parts of the occupied West Bank.

"Netanyahu is searching for the right-wing votes throughout selling his audience the illusion that he would keep the occupation of our land forever," said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem.

"The Palestinian people will keep their struggle until kicking the occupation out of their lands and establish their independent state," Qassem said.

He also underscored the need to forge "a unified Palestinian position that adopts comprehensive resistance" against the Israeli plan to annext part of the occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank.

Before Israel's April election, Netanyahu vowed to annex the West Bank but did not move to implement it.

Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians wish to establish an independent state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Currently, about 400,000 Jewish settlers live in some heavily guarded communities in the West Bank among some 2.8 million Palestinians.

The rocket attacks also came amidst rising tensions in the region. The last few weeks have witnessed several Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli counter-attacks against Hamas targets in Gaza.

Israel has been imposing a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over the Palestinian enclave in 2007. Enditem

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