More than 140 rockets have been fired at Israel this weekend, wounding at least four Israelis. The Israel Air Force (IAF), in response, has repeatedly targeted Gaza—including strikes on rocket-launching cells. Egypt, meanwhile, is reportedly working to secure a ceasefire to the escalation, which began on Friday.
According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Cairo is “working around the clock” to renew the relative calm between the sides. Haniyehon Sunday claimed the Palestinian factions in Gaza reacted “positively and responsibly” after he requested Egypt help mediate a ceasefire.
However, stop-and-start ceasefires to short-lived escalations between Gaza and Israel—prior to an actual calm—are typical. In addition, calm is a relative term. More than 600 rockets were fired at Israel in 2011 and occasional attacks are launched throughout the year.
Despite Hamas’ self-portrayal as trying to end the violence, Israel accused the Gaza-leading terror group of backing one of the organizations linked to the events that led to the conflict upsurge.
The IDF Blog said the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC)—whose head was part of plans to launch an upcoming terror attack via the Egypt-Israel border and who was preemptively assassinated by Israel on Friday, which kick-started the latest fighting—is “funded and supported directly by Hamas.” The IDF went on to accuse Hamas of “allowing the PRC to operate as an ostensibly independent proxy… while maintaining an official stance of ‘restraint.’”
The IDF also reiterated they hold Hamas, as the ruling party in the Strip, responsible to keep the calm. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted by an IDF statement as saying on Sunday, “We are prepared to defend the citizens of Israel, generic viagra japan with severe consequences for those who attempt of harm their daily routine.
“Hamas and other terror organizations continue to strengthen themselves, and we follow them closely. We are not interested in escalations, and we hold Hamas responsible for what is occurring in the Gaza Strip.”
As of Sunday night, more than 145 rockets had been launched at Israel, according to the IDF Blog. The Iron Dome missile defense system had picked off 43 rockets out of 52 intercept attempts.
However, some rockets struck Israeli civilian regions. At least four Israelis had been wounded, one seriously, while one rocket hit a house and killed a mare horse. School was canceled for Israeli locales at-risk of rocket attack.
Israel, meanwhile, had retaliated against the rocket fire by targeting weapons locations and what the IDF referred to as “terror activity sites,” as well as rocket-launching cells and sites.
The response was continuing into Monday. The IDF Spokesperson Twitter feed confirmed Monday morning Israel time that the IAF had targeted multiple rocket launching sites.
Earlier, on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Israeli south. In comments released by his office, he expressed solidarity with the under-fire residents and warned Israel will continue to respond to the attacks.
“My directive is to strike at whoever is planning to attack us,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. “The IDF is hitting the terrorist organizations very hard. The combination of offensive capability, defensive capability and civilian fortitude is a winning combination and we have it… We will continue to act as necessary.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 11, 2012)