Netanyahu scurries from election rally as rocket alert sounds

Netanyahu scurries from election rally as rocket alert sounds
Sirens warning of rocket fire from Gaza cut short an election rally by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
3 min read
10 September, 2019
Sirens warning of rocket fire from Gaza cut short an election rally by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the southern city of Ashdod late on Tuesday, public television reported.

KAN 11 broadcast footage of Netanyahu's security detail closing in around him as he was speaking from the podium.

One of them whispered in his ear before the premier raised a hand in farewell and was hustled from the building.

The army said in a statement that two rockets had been fired from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip at southern Israel but both had been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system.

Sirens had sounded in Ashdod and also nearby Ashkelon, it said.

Video posted on WhatsApp by Netanyahu's Likud party showed him returning to the stage after the all-clear and saying that the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas was scared of him wining the September 17 polls.

"If it attacks us on live TV, you understand that it doesn't want us here," he told his audience.

Netanyahu is running for prime minister again during 17 September polls where he will face contender Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party who relies on support from Israelis with roots in the former Soviet Union.

Lieberman, speaking to supporters of his nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party said "today's event proves that Netanyahu's policy of surrender to terror is bankrupt." 

Lieberman resigned as defence minister in November over a Gaza ceasefire deal which he called a "capitulation to terror".

The incident came less than three hours after Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

The Jordan Valley is the border between the West Bank and Israel on its west, and Jordan on its the east. 

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"One place that can have sovereignty immediately applied to it after the elections is the Jordan Valley. The next government will apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley,” The Times of Israel reported him saying. 

Governments of Israel have long claimed that the Jordan Valley was part of the country and that they would never relinquish control over it.

The valley was conquered by Israel during the war in 1967, and since then has mostly been under its military and administrative control.

Israel has always maintained that it cannot give it up for reasons of security.

However, the fertile strip is a large part of the West Bank and would form an integral part of a future Palestinian state.

According to human rights group B'Tselem, the northern Dead Sea and the Jordan valley "constitute almost 30 percent of the West Bank. Nearly 65,000 Palestinians and some 11,000 [Israeli] settlers live there". 

Despite Israel's currently occupation of the region, a formal annexation would lead to Israel's complete control over the region, spelling disaster for the Palestinians that currently live there and would be a further major blow to the viability of a Palestinian state. 

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