State Department condemns rocket attack from Gaza


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. State Department condemned a rocket attack into Israel from Gaza, but said it would continue to work with the Palestinian unity government.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday acknowledged that Hamas, which controls Gaza and is part of the unity government, was responsible for the attack on southern Israel.

“We expect the Palestinian Authority will do everything in its power to prevent attacks from Gaza into Israel,” she said. “But we acknowledge the reality that Hamas currently controls Gaza.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and called on all factions to remain committed to a cease-fire with Israel.

Israel responded to the Wednesday attack, which seriously damaged a major road in southern Israel but caused no injuries, with an airstrike that evening on what it called terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. The strike killed a terrorist, Mohammed Awwar, who was affiliated with Global Jihad, an extremist Salafist group that has launched several rocket attacks at Israel, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner said in a tweet.

Wednesday’s attack was the third incident of rockets fired on southern Israel from Gaza in the past five days. No injuries were reported.

“Our policy is clear — kill those who rise up to kill us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following Israel’s retaliatory strike. “This is the true face of Hamas; it is continuing to plan terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens even as it inside the Palestinian government.”

Psaki acknowledged during the briefing with reporters that “Abbas’ ability to impact these type of attacks is really severely limited at this point in time” and noted “Abbas must do all in his power to prevent deterioration in the security situation.”

She added, “We made a decision as the United States Government that our assistance to the Palestinian Authority is important to the United States.  This is a technocratic government that just formed in the past couple of weeks. We’ll be watching events closely as time continues.”

Since the start of this year, more than 140 rockets fired from Gaza Strip have hit Israel, the Israeli military said.

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