Palestinian Islamists have launched a barrage of more than 200 rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel’s southern communities.
As of noon, today, 22 Israelis were wounded, including a woman who sustained moderate to serious injuries from a rocket that landed in an Israeli community in the Eshkol regional council. The Iron Dome anti-rocket defense systems intercepted more than 30 incoming projectiles, while most of the other rockets that were fired exploded in open fields. Batsheva Tzur, an Israeli resident of the southern Israeli Eshkol regional council said, “It was a hit that demolished everything around it, indiscriminately,” she stressed after a rocket exploded near her home.
In response to the Palestinian rocket fire, the Israeli Air Force targeted more than 150 militant installations belonging to the Islamist Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations – including an attack tunnel that was located near the Mediterranean Sea. The IDF noted that it launched additional strikes against rocket launching squads in Gaza. The IDF spokespersons unit emphasized in a statement that its actions came “in response to the rockets launched from Gaza,” while underscoring its determination to secure the safety of Israel’s civilian population. Furthermore, the IDF asserted that Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for the ongoing events.
Hamas initially released a statement saying, “We are delivering on our promise. The resistance accepted the responsibility to even the playing field with the enemy and it is succeeding in doing so.” Nevertheless, Hamas changed its position after an Israeli airstrike that targeted and killed a Hamas militant, who reportedly launched a rocket from an area adjacent to a residential structure. Palestinian medical officials confirmed that a Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the strike, as well. A Hamas spokesperson told TV7 thereafter that “The Palestinian resistance in defending its people against the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza, as part of its national duty,” while emphasizing that Hamas holds Israel responsible for its heavy bombardment and attacks on the Palestinian population in Gaza.
Intelligence sources revealed to TV7 that since the start of the violent escalation, Egypt has actively sought to broker a cease-fire agreement between the Islamist Hamas and Israel, while A United Nations source told TV7 that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov was also involved in the efforts to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities, to thwart the clashes from deteriorating into a full conflagration. Nevertheless, the attempt to alleviate the situation seem to fail, that after the Egyptian intelligence officially informed Israel that Hamas opposes calm. The deteriorating situation has led a senior Israeli army official to warn of an imminent full-blown military confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-run enclave, while adding that the Israeli government could begin evacuating local communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.