Special Report: JERUSALEM—Around 100 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza over the weekend as of Sunday afternoon according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed, with the casualty count rising on Saturday. One person in Beersheba was killed in the attacks on Saturday night, according to Yonatan Yagodovsky, the director of the Magen David Adom (Israeli emergency medical service) International Department. The latest escalation with Gaza started with Thursday’s multipronged terror attack on the route to Eilat that killed multiple Israeli civilians.
Speaking with The Mideast Update by phone on Sunday afternoon, Yagodovsky said that in addition to the lethal Beersheba rocket attack on Saturday, that same night in the southern Israeli town of Ofakim one four-month-old baby and a nine-year-old child were wounded, with both in moderate condition and suffering from shrapnel injuries.
Other wounded include one critically injured, three severely and two more moderately from Beersheba, plus another moderately injured in Ofakim, as well as less serious injuries. More were hurt earlier Saturday and on Friday.
The blistering Gaza rocket assault is the worst since last April and is bringing back memories of the rocketfire around the time of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead campaign in the Gaza Strip in 2008-09—a multi-week conflict launched in attempt to quell the rocket attacks at the time.
So far it remains unclear when the latest surge in violence will subside. Israel responded to the attack by striking a number of targets in Gaza, including killing senior leaders of the terror group responsible for the Eilat carnage. Israel has also been responding to the rocket attacks with additional strikes in Gaza.
Hamas, the terrorist organization that is also the ruling authority in Gaza, while denying responsibility for the Eilat terror attack, has recently refused to enforce a renewal of the ceasefire with Israel until the Israelis halt their fire.
In a statement from Saturday quoted on the Hamas military wing’s information office website, Senior Hamas official Ahmad Bahar ignored that Thursday’s terrorism started the current round of violence and said, “Any talk about ceasefire between resistance factions [militants] and the Israeli occupation must be preceded by halting the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people.”
Bahar also issued a warning, saying the “resistance” would “teach the enemy unforgettable lessons, and remind them that deterrence is symmetrical.”
Israel holds Hamas responsible for Gaza terrorism since the group controls the Strip, effectively playing host to a wide-range of terror groups—not to mention occasionally claiming credit for attacks themselves.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 21, 2011)