by: Kate Norman
Friday, 15 March 2019 | Three times during the night and again this morning, frightened Israelis ran for the nearest bomb shelter amid the drone of the Code Red siren. Nine rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel—two of which were launched at Tel Aviv. The rest were fired at Israeli communities bordering the terror enclave.
As they were running for shelter, civilians in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area of Gush Dan heard explosions in the sky above as Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted the rockets.
The military reported that the Iron Dome intercepted six of the nine projectiles fired at Israel since last night. Two of the rockets fell into an open field, and one failed to cross the border into Israel. Though no damage or casualties were reported, rocket fragments were found near a school in Sderot, located less than a mile [1.6 km] from Gaza, and five people were treated for shock.
Palestinians in Gaza have been consistently firing lone rockets and launching incendiary devices at Israeli communities near the border. Last night’s rocket attacks marked an escalation in that it was the first time Gaza has launched rockets at Tel Aviv, the Jewish state’s second largest city, since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
In response, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) reported that it struck 100 Hamas military targets in Gaza, including an underground rocket manufacturing site, headquarters where terror attacks in Judea and Samaria are orchestrated, and a center for unmanned aerial aircrafts.
However, Hamas, who openly calls for Israel’s destruction and proudly claims attacks against the Jewish state, denied responsibility for the recent rocket fire.
“We are following up on the firing of rockets from Gaza against the national consensus, and the ministry will take measures against the violators,” Hamas’s Interior Ministry said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.
An anonymous Hamas official told the Times that Hamas “has no interest in an escalation” with Israel and that he “has no idea” who fired the rockets at Tel Aviv.
Hamas’s armed wing earlier claimed the rockets were fired while Hamas leaders were meeting with Egyptian mediators to continue negotiations for a cease-fire between Gaza and Israel, the Times reported.
The Islamic Jihad, Hamas’s competitor in Gaza and an Iranian-backed terror group, denied rumors that it was behind the attacks.
The Israeli military is reporting that the attack was a mistake, most likely an unauthorized launch by low-level Hamas militants. Nonetheless, the military has a policy of holding Hamas, who holds political and military control of the Gaza Strip, responsible for all terror attacks on Israel from the Strip.
“The Hamas terrorist organization bears responsibility for everything that is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip,” the IDF posted on its blog page. “The IDF views with great severity any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and will continue to act vigorously against these terrorist acts.”
Two weeks from now will mark the one year anniversary of the “March of Return” riots along the Gaza border.
Update: Palestinian media reports say Israel and Gaza have reached a cease-fire agreement. Israel has not yet confirmed the reports.
Posted on March 15, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 15, 2019)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/Twitter
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