image Photo: Flash 90

Gazan rocket fire continues

Palestinian Islamists are continually launching rockets and mortar-shells from the terror-infested Gaza Strip toward Israel’s civilian communities. Up until 08:15 this morning, approximately 220 projectiles were fired from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

In contrast to yesterday’s indiscriminate rocket-fire which spilled into the densely populated central region of the Jewish State, today the Palestinian Islamists have limited their hostilities to the southern and southeastern parts of the country. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s unit the Iron Dome anti-rocket Defense System intercepted dozens of rockets in accordance with standard procedure, with a success rate of over 90%. Unfortunately, however, less than 10% of the incoming projectiles managed to penetrate Israel’s aerial defensive shield, some of which directly hit residential structures and commercial facilities. Batsheva Hadad, who is an Israeli citizen whose house sustained a direct hit, said “We immediately ran to the sheltered room, I told my husband to lock it tight as much as possible because we usually just close the door without locking. We locked it tight and heard a scary ‘boom’. This boom was so frightening and I felt it was inside the house.”

It is important to note that while the Islamist Hamas organization has declared its support for the aggression of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas has not joined in the fighting thus far, and the IDF appears to have calibrated its actions to achieve that end. Contrary to past escalations, the Israeli air force has exclusively targeted terror installations belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Because of Israel’s success in isolating the Islamic Jihad from the other Islamist groups in Gaza, the Iranian-backed terror group has been forced to calculate the scope of its rocket fire and / and manage its arsenal so as to be able to continue the rocket fire over the course of the next several days. Regardless, the leader of the Jihadist group Khader Habib vowed to continue the fight against the Jewish State, saying: “Our Palestinian nation announces to everyone that we will continue to fight and will make this entity (Israel), specifically the mad (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu, pay a high price. And we will continue to fight until we destroy the occupation (Israel) and free Palestine, all of Palestine.”

According to a senior Israeli intelligence official, who spoke to TV7 on condition of anonymity, “Egypt is successfully applying immense pressure on Hamas to refrain from joining the fight.” The Israeli official explained that “currently Egyptian intelligence officials are working behind the scenes to mediate a viable cessation of hostilities” – “and so long as there are no casualties on either side, excluding the rocket-launching terror cells of the Islamic Jihad, the situation will gradually alleviate in the coming days.”

The intelligence official underscored, however, that the presiding assessment in Tel Aviv remains, “if Hamas enters this round of escalation, the situation will most likely exacerbate into an all-out war.” To prepare for such a scenario, Israel deployed additional armored forces along the border with the Hamas-controlled territory. Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored that Jerusalem is not interested in a wider escalation. In his opening remarks to the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stressed that while Jerusalem is determined to fight to defend the country, it is not bent on an escalation; “I said yesterday that we are not bent on escalation, but that we would respond to every attack against us, and respond very sharply. Islamic Jihad would do well to understand this right now, instead of when it will be too late. I believe that Islamic Jihad is starting to internalize this message. They understand that we will continue to strike them without mercy. They understand that Israel is very strong and that our will is very great. We are determined to fight to defend our country and if they think that these barrages or these strikes will weaken us or lessen our determination, they are mistaken. Therefore, they have but one choice – to stop these attacks or take more and more blows. The choice is theirs.”

Despite apparent efforts to defuse the volatile situation by means of Egyptian mediation, residents of the Gaza Strip have voiced pessimism that appears to be rooted in desperation over the prospects of evading a wider altercation. Gaza resident Mohammad Rajab said “I think the situation is going towards war like in 2014. Still it is not clear in the coming hours the situation will become clearer.”