In a series of bombings, shootings and rocket fire, Hamas has seriously escalated the already volatile situation in the south of Israel over the weekend.
It all started up again last Thursday when an Israeli work crew near Nirim in the south was fired upon from Gaza. The IDF returned fire and sent in a routine patrol to Nirim to investigate the source of the fire. Here’s the rest of the story from the Times of Israel:
Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after finding a large tunnel filled with explosives running beneath the border fence with the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Soldiers conducting routine patrols of the border near the town of Nirim found a smuggling tunnel 4 meters deep and almost 5 meters wide burrowed beneath the border, the IDF Spokesperson said.
Nirim was the scene earlier in the day of an incident in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired on a work crew and IDF troops returned fire.
The patrol that discovered the tunnel crossed into the Gaza Strip to search for explosives, and, on their return, while repairing the border fence, an “extremely large” amount of explosives detonated on the Gaza side of the border. One soldier was very lightly injured, and an IDF jeep was damaged by the blast that reportedly launched it 20 meters.
“It’s a very large smuggling tunnel, unlike anything we’ve seen recently,” the spokesperson’s office said.
The troops ventured some 200 meters into the Strip, a rare move along the tense border.
Late Thursday night, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel considers the incident a serious event, holding Hamas responsible and adding that Israel will determine when and how to respond.
The army suspected that the tunnel was part of a “kidnapping attempt” or an attempt to kill IDF soldiers stationed along the border. In the past two weeks there have been three cases of explosives placed on the border injuring Israeli soldiers.
The IDF spokesperson confirmed that the explosion occurred in the vicinity where, earlier in the evening, Palestinian medical sources reported a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli fire.
The IDF had no information indicating its troops targeted anyone, and reported that there were no suspicious persons in the area when soldiers conducted their mission.
The spokesperson also could not confirm a report in Palestinian Wafa news agency that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday when the boy was killed.
According to the IDF Spokesman’s blog, the explosion was caused by explosives in the tunnel itself, and not from a roadside bomb.
The next incident in this round of violence occurred today (Saturday) when Palestinian terrorists from Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF Jeep on the Israeli side of the border, seriously injuring 4 soldiers:
Four soldiers were wounded Saturday when an IDF force patrolling near Karni crossing was hit by terrorist fire. The military jeep sustained a direct, through-and-through hit by an anti-tank missile.
Two soldiers sustained serious injuries to the lower extremities and were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Two others were rushed to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in moderate condition, suffering from shrapnel wounds.
The fire came from a location east of the Gaza Strip neighborhoods of Zeitun and Sajaiya. IDF forces scrambled to the scene and a heavy fire exchange followed, with the IDF using tanks and machine-guns to neutralize the threat.
Gaza sources said that IAF helicopters were flying over the Strip’s southern and eastern areas, as well.
The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) military wing – claimed responsibility for the attack; but the IDF said that it was more likely the work of Islamic Jihad militents.
Later Saturday, the Al-Arabiya network reported that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed the attack.
Gaza medical sources reported of four fatalities and 25 casualties as a result of the IDF’s shelling. The causalities were taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Ayman al-Sahbani, a doctor at Shifa, said all of the casualties were civilians and the children were among the wounded.
Well, they would say that. Anything to smear the IDF and Israel. How better than to claim that women and children were the sole victims? The report continues:
Hamas security forces reportedly cleared all posts in the vicinity of the scene, fearing an imminent Israeli strike.
Now it becomes clear. The cowardly terrorists fire from amongst a civilian population – a clear war crime under international law – then run away leaving the civilian population to bear the brunt of any retaliation.
This brings us to tonight, where in retaliation for the IDF’s retaliation for the terrorists’ attacking an IDF patrol on the Israeli side of the border, the Palestinian terrorists from Gaza have launched another huge salvo of rockets on the south of Israel:
Moe than 30 rockets — eight of them long-range — were fired into Israel. There were no immediate reports of injuries in the rocket fire, although a woman in Ashdod broke her leg running to a safe area as a rocket alarm sounded. A car took a direct hit in a town in the Sha’ar Hanegev region adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
Schools were ordered closed Sunday in the town of Gan Yavne. Commercial traffic through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza was also canceled.
Rockets fell in the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions, with at least one rocket reported to have landed near a kibbutz. One rocket hit a power line in a town in the Eshkol region, causing local power outages.
Alarms also sounded in the Ashdod and Ashkelon areas. The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down three rockets heading toward residential areas in Ashdod and Ashkelon.
Residents of communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip were told to remain within 15 seconds of sealed rooms or other safe areas.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the IDF had responded severely to the terrorist fire and will consider additional responses in the upcoming days.
“We will not let such border incidents go unanswered,” said Barak.
I don’t buy that for one minute. Israel’s response to the incessant rocket-fire is nowhere near strong enough or far enough. It will never stop unless and until the terrorists are thoroughly wiped out and defeated. Retaliatory bombings of empty storehouses or single rocket-launching crews is merely “putting out fires”. The innocent residents of the south deserve a much stronger and more thorough response which will enable them to return to a normal way of life, one not lived within 15 seconds of shelter, one which does not lead to a devastatingly high level of trauma in children, a way of life which does not paralyse the economy or normal day-to-day activity.
There are several suggestions put forth in the article:
Likud Knesset member Danny Danon urged the government to cut off electricity supplies to Gaza. Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein called for the IDF to “deliver a decisive blow” against Gaza’s terror cells.
Former IDF chief of staff, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said that Gaza required “thorough treatment.”
“The terror organizations should be busy running for their lives instead of carrying out attacks,” said Mofaz.
And in case you wanted a new definition of chutzpah, read what the terrorists have to say for themselves:
In a text message to reporters, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum threatened to respond.
“Targeting civilians is a dangerous escalation that cannot be tolerated. The resistance has the full right to respond to the Israeli crimes,” he said.
Yep. Fire rockets at Israeli civilians from amongst your own civilian population and then threaten response against Israeli civilians for the IDF having hit back at you hiding amongst your civilians.
You couldn’t make it up.