One rocket was fired into Israel and successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome system causing rocket sirens to sound in Ashkelon and areas north of the city on Wednesday evening. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding an event in Ashkelon as the rocket sirens went off.
Sirens were heard in Ashkelon, Emunim, Sde Oziahu, Azrikim, Beer Ganim, Berachia, Hodaya, Nitzanim, Nir Yisrael and Beer Tuviah.
Netanyahu was taken off stage to a shelter as the sirens were sounded and Culture Minister Miri Regev took the stage in his place. Multiple other Likud officials who were at the event were not brought to a shelter. Netanyahu returned to the stage shortly afterwards.
A similar incident happened in Ashdod in September when rocket sirens were fired as Netanyahu held a campaign event in the city.
In both incidents, live videos on Facebook showed him being interrupted and brought off stage.
Gazan reports indicated that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Khalil Batanai is the one behind the rocket fire on Wednesday night, according to Channel 12. The rocket fire in September was ordered by former PIJ official Baha Abu Al Ata, who was assassinated in November.
“The person that shot at us before is no longer with us. Whoever shot at us now should pack up his belongings,” said Netanyahu after he returned to the stage on Wednesday. The prime minister continued and spoke about the strength of the State of Israel and the need for faith.
“Again [Labor party leader] Amir Peretz’s Iron Dome saved Netanyahu. The truth needs to be said. Without the Iron Dome that protects the Israeli home front, Netanyahu would already not be prime minister,” said the Labor-Gesher party in response to the attack.
“The situation in which the citizens of Israel are given to the grace of terrorists and the prime minister of the Israeli government can’t tour part of his country is a badge of shame for the security policies in the south and the loss of deterrence that no sovereign state can allow,” tweeted Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Wednesday night. “We will flip the government, change the policies and return the deterrence and quiet to the residents of the south.”
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman said that this is the “second time this year that Gaza terror activists humiliate the state of Israel,” He also said that, for the second time, the prime minister “fled to a protected shelter.”
Liberman said that “what we have is a surrender to terror, and no new-speak can change the reality we all find ourselves in.”