(Update 4: Adds Netanyahu’s remarks, info on Hamas deaths)
Jerusalem, May 12 (EFE).- Israel is intensifying its airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation against rocket fire from the enclave, prime minister Benjamín Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
His comments came after an operation by Israeli security and intelligence forces killed several top leaders of militias affiliated to Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip.
“We eliminated senior Hamas commanders and this is just the beginning,” Netanyahu said.
Israel “will respond, and we are responding, with increasing force,” he said at Holon’s Wolfson medical center where he visited Israelis who have been wounded by rocket fire from Gaza.
Hamas’ militias confirmed the killing of Bassem Issa, the commander of its Gaza City Brigade, who has been in charge of directing the rocket attacks on Israel from the enclave.
Hamas also confirmed the deaths of three other high-ranked militants in airstrikes.
The Israeli army said it had carried out a “complex operation” in cooperation with the intelligence services to simultaneously eliminate several Hamas leaders in Gaza City and Khan Yunis.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that it would not accept a ceasefire “until the attacks stop in Jerusalem and the airstrikes on the Gaza strip stop”.
At least 48 people, including 14 children and three women, have been killed in the Israeli airstrikes, the Gazan health ministry said on Wednesday. More than 300 people have been wounded.