Anti-Tank Rocket Attack Sparks Upsurge in Gaza Violence

The IDF has reported that more than 100 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since Saturday, a barrage that began after the IDF responded to an anti-tank missile attack that wounded four Israeli soldiers on Saturday afternoon. The Twitter account for IDF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said that one of the Gaza rockets on Sunday hit a guest house in a southern Israeli kibbutz. No one was injured. A home in Sderot was hit earlier in the day.

Dozens of rockets were launched at Israel on Sunday alone. In response to the violence, the IDF website said the Israeli Air Force (IAF) early Sunday morning struck at weapons storage facilities, rocket-launching sites and more terrorist targets. Israel warned of an even harsher response.

The surge in Gaza violence has been a growing trend in recent weeks, including a separate rocket barrage last month. Rocket attacks, however, have generally been down since the IDF invaded Gaza in the 2009-10 Operation Cast Lead campaign. The latest round raised concerns about another operation.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in comments released by his office, “Israel will not accept in any shape or form Hamas’ changing of the ‘rules’ along the border with the Gaza Strip. During the last two days, the IDF, upon my instruction, has been evaluating the host of options for harsher responses against Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza. We will strike with an ever-growing intensity.

“…If we are forced to go back into Gaza in order to deal Hamas a [serious] blow and restore security for all of Israel’s citizens, then we will not hesitate to do so.”

According to the IDF Spokeperson’s Blog, the initial anti-tank missile strike on Saturday hit an IDF jeep on patrol of the Gaza border fence, wounding four Israeli soldiers, two of them seriously.

Following the jeep attack, Israel responded with ground fire on Gaza terrorist targets. Barak said that terrorists were killed in the IDF response. The Gaza rocket assault then began in earnest within the next three hours of the back-and-forth.

Israel has had an intense stretch in its conflict with Gaza. Barak noted that “in the last month over twenty active terrorists, and to our great sorrow some civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip; there have also been many wounded.”

While neither the IDF, nor the Hamas website identified what Gaza terror group was behind the current fighting, Israel again cast responsibility on the Hamas leaders of the Strip. “As far as Israel is concerned, Hamas is responsible for the rocket-fire and all other attempts to harm our soldiers and civilians [from Gaza], even when other groups participate,” said Barak. “And it is Hamas that will pay the heavy price; a price that will be painful.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, November 11, 2012)