Rocket fire out of Gaza once more

Iron Dome in action (archive photo)

After a relatively long period of quiet (a few weeks) Palestinian terrorists fired 6 rockets at the south of Israel. Two were shot down by the Iron Dome, the other four hit open areas and thank G-d no one was injured – physically at least. Who knows what psychological damage these rockets do to the residents of the south.

It appears that the culprits were Islamic Jihad as opposed to Hamas. In other words the two terrorist organizations are fighting each other for supremacy and using Israel as its whipping boy.

Four rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council late Sunday night. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets and two hit open areas. No injuries or damage were reported.

Another two rockets were launched at the Bnei Shimon Regional Council. Both exploded in open areas and no injuries or damage were reported.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft attacked in Gaza overnight, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the closure of the border crossings between Israel and the Hamas-ruled territory. The IDF estimates Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket fire.

Following a meeting with top Southern Command officials and the head of IDF intelligence, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz instructed the army to launch airstrikes against four terror targets in central and south Gaza. The targets, including a rocket-launching pad and a weapons cache, belong to Islamic Jihad. The terror group apparently launched the rocket attack as an act of defiance against Gaza’s rulers. However, the army is not ruling out the possibility that extremist Salafists were behind the attack.

Tensions between Islamic Jihad and Hamas have been mounting following the recent death of an Islamic Jihad terrorist at the hands of Hamas’ security forces during clashes. Islamic Jihad announced it was severing ties with Hamas for the time being.

“We’re pretty shocked at the whole thing,” said Sigal Moran, head of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council. “I still hope it was a mistake and not the beginning of another era of emergency routine.”

“We thought we’d have some peace. I hope it was sporadic and will not repeat itself, especially now that the kids are entering the summer vacation.”

Air raid siren sounded in Rahat, Beersheba, Lehavim Regional Council and Shaar Hanegev Regional council. Local residents reported to hearing blasts.

Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban said “I heard the sirens and then a boom. Residents were panicked; people keep calling me all the time. It’s been a while since we heard sirens but we’re always alert.

Let’s hope that this rocket fire was a one-off incident and that it’s not the start of a renewed round of violence.

A quick trawl through the UK press shows that neither the rocket fire nor the Israeli response were reported – yet. The sole exception is the BBC with a surprisingly balanced report. Perhaps BBC Watch is finally making its mark.

I wonder how long it will take the rest of the media to catch up and report that “Israel hit back first”.

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