Islamic Jihad terrorists fired some 40 rockets at Israel’s citizens in the south, eliciting a sharp response from the IDF.
By: United with Israel Staff
Israel’s citizens in the south experienced a terrifying weekend as Gaza-based Palestinians terrorists fired dozens of rockets at civilian targets, repeatedly setting off Red Code alerts that sent them running for cover.
The Iron Dome defense system intercepted 13 rockets. All of the other rockets fell in open spaces or inside Gaza. None of the rockets caused injuries or damage.
The IDF stated that Palestinian Islamic Jihad was behind the attacks and carried them out with Iran’s encouragement.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) responded by attacking some 88 terror targets throughout the Strip, including an Islamic Jihad cement factory, which was used to build cross-border terror tunnels, which was built right next to a school, “putting the children of Gaza at risk,” the IDF stated.
The IAF also struck an Islamic Jihad weapons manufacturing facility. “They use their weapons to try to kill innocent Israeli civilians, we use our weapons to destroy their weapons,” the IDF stated.
The IAF also hit Hamas’ new General Security Services headquarters in Gaza. The IDF warned the building’s occupants to evacuate several times prior to the strike.
A Hamas weapons storage depot was also bombed. “Hamas deliberately positioned it next to schools, a hospital and a mosque. For Hamas, nothing is sacred,” the IDF stated.
COGAT, the IDF unit that handles Palestinian civilian issues, said one of the rockets hit an ambulance crossing used to transfer Gazans out of the Strip in emergency humanitarian cases.
“To what low have the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip reached?” wrote COGAT commander, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, on his Arabic Facebook page.
Iran is Behind the Fire
“Terrorist Hamas bears responsibility for all attacks against Israel from Gaza. We have just responded against Palestinian Islamic Jihad military targets. Iranian guidance to PIJ [is] clear. We will continue to defend and are ready for all scenarios,” tweeted IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Conricus said Islamic Jihad had fired the rockets under instructions from Iran’s Al Quds Force based in Syria and said that Israel was considering taking action against the Iranians in response.
“We have seen and established a clear link between Gaza and Damascus,” he said. “We know that the orders, incentives were given from Damascus with the clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.”
“From our perspective, part of the address by which we will deal with this fire is also in Damascus and the Quds Force,” he added. “Our response is not limited geographically.”
The Islamic Jihad, which has close ties to Iran and Syria, said they agreed to Egyptian mediation efforts and halted the rocket fire, the heaviest to emanate from Gaza in months.
“The Egyptian efforts led to understandings to restore calm to Gaza Strip. We appreciate the Egyptian endeavor and hope for all kinds of (Israeli) aggression to stop,” said Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad official.
The fighting in Gaza followed a violent day of border riots on Friday as Hamas-led rioters swarmed towards Israel’s border. Israeli forces responded with crowd dispersal means, and shot and killed five Palestinians rioters.
On the Brink of an Eruption
Egyptian mediators have been trying to prevent a full-blown conflict between Hamas and Israel for months.
The south saw a severe escalation last week when Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket towards the southern city of Beersheba, directly hitting and demolishing a home. There were no Israeli casualties in the incident.
While Israel had been working to ease tensions on the border and help ease a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, most recently allowing a massive shipment of fuel to enter Gaza for electricity on Wednesday, the government has warned that Hamas’ actions are leading the area towards a full-scale war.
Addressing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that Israel has “exhausted all options” in an attempt to seek quiet in the area, and “only the most powerful blow [to] Hamas will help.”
Commenting on the prospects of a ceasefire with Hamas, Liberman stated that “when we talk about an arrangement, and I’m expressing my opinion here – I do not believe in any arrangement with Hamas. It does not work, it has not worked in the past, it will not work in the future.”
Israel has “reached a situation of no choice. Anything other than dealing the most severe blow – the heaviest we can – on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, will not help. We are truly in a situation of no choice,” Liberman asserted.
“My position is very clear. I think that we have reached a point where decisions must be made. We have exhausted all options,” he concluded.
AP contributed to this report.
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