Photo Credit: GPO
Prime Minister Netanyahu looks out at the construction work on the security fence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his visit in Paris on Sunday and boarded a plane back to Israel in light of the escalating tensions with Gaza.

Rocket fire began emanating from the enclave late Sunday night following a shootout between IDF troops and Hamas terrorist forces in the town of Khan Younis in the eastern part of Gaza.

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Arab media reported that at least six senior Hamas commanders were killed and more were injured in the raid by IDF commandos.

Among the dead was a senior commander with the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Hamas military wing, Nur Barakeh, an alleged tunnels expert who also served as the commander of a Khan Younis regional battalion.

Further details were unavailable due to an order by Israel’s military censor.

The clashes prompted a wave of Israeli Air Force air strikes in Gaza, and a series of rocket attacks fired at southern Israel by Hamas and its ally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.

As of 11:58 pm Sunday night, Israeli military authorities had identified 10 rocket launches that reached Israeli territory, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

At least one rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council district. Two others were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. No physical injuries were reported, and no property damage was caused.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced in response that he would immediately return to Israel, cutting short his trip to Paris. “In light of the security-related incidents in the South, the prime minister has decided to shorten his visit to Paris and to return to Israel tonight,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Israel’s security cabinet met in a late-night session convened by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at the IDF ‘Kirya” headquarters in Tel Aviv. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Shin Bet intelligence chief Nadav Argaman were both at the meeting.

Also as a result of the security situation Sunday night, incoming flights to Israel were being rerouted. Pilots are being asked to enter the country from the north via Netanya, and flying over Shomron (Samaria) into Ben Gurion International Airport.

Residents of southern Israel were advised to remain close to their bomb shelters and safe spaces for the rest of the night.

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