The intensified rocket attacks on Israel have stretched into their third day, with the IDF reporting that, as of early Monday afternoon, 148 rockets have been launched at Israel since Saturday. The damage of the onslaught continued as well, as the IDF website said that another house was struck by a rocket, the third home hit in two days. No casualties were reported at the time.
The Iron Dome missile defense system was also activated early on Monday, intercepting a pair of Gaza rockets in the mid-morning. The upsurge in rocketfire began after a Gaza anti-tank missile attack on an IDF jeep patrol and subsequent IDF ground fire in response.
The Israeli military has responded to the rocket attacks as well. Overnight, the Israel Air Force (IAF) hit a launching site, a weapons storage facility and a terrorist tunnel in Gaza. Gaza tunnels can be used to smuggle weapons or launch covert attacks on Israeli targets.
The current rocket assault is part of a significant escalation in Gaza violence against Israel that began in earnest last month. At one point more than 150 rockets had been fired at Israel in the month of October, a figure nearly reached in just the last three days.
The conflict has caught the eye of Europe, with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing her concerns in a press release. “I condemn the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel, and call on both sides to refrain from exacerbating the situation,” said Ashton. “Further regrettable loss of life and injury must be avoided. I support the mediation efforts by Egypt and reiterate that there is no place for violence in the Middle East.”
Gaza has fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the last decade, although the rocket attacks have declined significantly since the 2009-10 Israeli military campaign in Gaza intended to quell the terrorism. Since then, upticks in violence, similar to the current round, have typically ended in a gradual ceasefire mediated by Egypt.
The latest upsurge in Gaza assaults, however, has raised questions about the possible need for another invasion by Israel to re-establish the calmer situation. In addition to the roughly 300 rockets fired at Israel since the beginning of last month, there have also been several border attacks from Gaza that have wounded multiple Israeli soldiers.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 12, 2012)