While Saturday night saw a decrease in Gazan rocket fire and no Israeli military response to what was launched, Hamas kept things heated on Sunday with strong words in calling for Gaza terrorists to keep their fingers “on the trigger”. An Arabic statement released by Hamas on their website said the terror group “demanded the valiant resistance in the Gaza Strip to keep its finger on the trigger, and to prepare its missiles to be ready in targeting the enemy’s strongholds and its military and vital installations,” according to a translation via Google Translate.
On the Israeli side, the words were muted but still held a warning. A press release said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with security leaders from the military and police and noted he had “ordered to prepare for any scenario.”
The tense rhetoric follows the first significant flare-up in Gaza rocketfire against Israel in months. After 36 rockets were fired at Israel on Friday night, another four were launched on Saturday night. A post to the official IDF Twitter page noted that made “40 rockets too many” and that “Hamas will bear the consequences for all terror emanating from Gaza.” Then on Sunday, at least three more were shot at Israel, with the IDF Twitter feed saying two were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Despite the IDF warning to Hamas, Saturday night’s rocket attacks were not met with the standard Israeli retaliation attacks. The Times of Israel noted this was apparently an effort by Israel to defuse the situation, which comes as Palestinian riots have erupted in Jerusalem, a rocket fired from Syria hit Israel, and tensions with Iran continue. On Sunday, there were no reports of a military response to the three rockets then either.
Another potential reason for Israel holding back might be due to the lack of direct damage caused by the rockets. In various posts on the Saturday attacks, the IDF Twitter page said one rocket crashed in the Gaza Strip, while another hit near the security fence on the edge of the Strip. The Iron Dome intercepted a third rocket. It was unclear from the Twitter feed what happened to the fourth projectile, but no damage was reported. Sunday’s lone missile not picked off by Iron Dome failed to launch and blew up inside of Gaza.
The Israeli security situation is serious enough that IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi postponed his trip to the United States that was intended to discuss Iran, among other topics. The IDF Twitter post on Saturday noting the postponement said Kohavi had instructed “a series of steps for possible responses & prepare in the event of an escalation of the current situation.”
Hamas’ strong rhetoric on Sunday follows a statement on Saturday posted to their English website commenting on the tensions in Jerusalem and Gaza in which Hamas promised the Palestinians would continue “their struggle and all forms of resistance to defend Jerusalem… at any cost.”
Meanwhile, the blatant attacks against Israeli civilians by Gaza rockets were highlighted in an IDF tweet noting that Saturday night “for the second night in a row, Israelis are running to bomb shelters because of an incoming rocket from Gaza.” The IDF also tweeted that the Saturday rocket that failed to exit the Gaza Strip “fell before it reached Israel, potentially endangering the lives of civilians in Gaza. Terror hurts everyone.”
Germany took a strong tone against the Gaza rocketfire on Sunday, with a German Foreign Office spokesperson saying in a statement: “The German Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the latest missile attacks from Gaza against the Israeli civilian population; they cannot be justified in any way and must stop immediately.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 25, 2021)