|Yom Hashoah at siren time, 10 am [Image Source]|
The Hamas-run Gaza Strip, known for possessing one of the world’s largest rocket arsenals, has been making its lethal presence felt again today as the general climate in our neighourhood for trouble and violence edges upwards.
It’s Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) but the pragmatic concerns of most Israelis aren’t limited (if they ever were) to looking back at the blood-soaked recent history of our people. There are daily murderous attacks on Jews by powerful, absurdly-well-armed enemies right here and now and even if most of the media attention fails to deal with the threats on our borders, Israelis and the security establishment must.
Haaretz says two rockets were fired by Gaza-based terrorist forces into the southern region of Israel early this morning (Thursday). A barrage of explosive-laden balloons was launched in the same general direction during Wednesday:
Alarms sounded in Israeli communities along the Gaza border, including Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev Regional Councils, before the rocket fire, but there were no reports of damage and no one was hurt. Palestinian media reported that a Hamas training facility in Gaza was target by the Israeli air force. It was heavily damaged, reports say, but no casualties were reported.
According to Aljazeera, those Israel-bound rockets have a known origin:
Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, reportedly launched two rockets towards Israel on Thursday morning in response to Israeli rocket fire.
Threats were issued ahead of thee rockets:
Palestinian groups in Gaza have threatened over the past week to resume certain activities at the border that were recently frozen, including the use of incendiary balloons. Sources in the committee that organizes weekly protests at the border said this week that Israeli failure to implement recently agreed-upon understandings is leading to anger in Gaza and could lead to violent escalation [Haaretz]
The balloons caused serious damage and loss:
Fire and rescue services were called [Wednesday] to put out two fires near Israeli border communities, which authorities say were caused by firebombs from Gaza [Haaretz]
The Israeli army said the rocket launched by Islamic Jihad on Monday was aimed at hitting one of Israeli communities along the border. It named Islamic Jihad officials directly, publishing their photos, and laid responsibility for the attack on the organization, an unusual move as it normally holds Hamas accountable for aggression coming out of the Strip.
Aljazeera adds that on Tuesday
Israel reduced Gaza’s fishing limit from 15 nautical miles (27.8km) to six nautical miles (11.1km) after it alleged a rocket was fired from the territory by Islamic Jihad – an allegation the Palestinian group denied. Rights group call Israel’s ever-changing limit of Gaza’s fishing zone as “illegal collective punishment”.
About that rocket, Anna Aronheim, writing in the Jerusalem Post, quotes the IDF Spokesperson Brig-Gen Ronen Manelis, saying Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) launched it from the al-Attra neighborhood of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza Strip. And naming names:
“It was intentionally fired by the group,” Manelis said, adding that the PIJ operative who gave the order for the launch is Baha’a Abu al-Ata, the PIJ commander of the northern Strip. According to Manelis, al-Ata received his orders directly from the group’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Damascus. PIJ, the military said, is trying to carry out low-level attacks and maintain a low profile so that Hamas doesn’t figure out that they are trying to undermine ceasefire efforts between the ruling group in the coastal enclave and Israel.
“There are dozens of countries around the world which are trying to improve the humanitarian situation in the Strip but and at the same time there is one man inside Gaza and one man outside the Strip which is trying to torpedo that,” he said… On a call with reporters, Manelis noted that the rocket launch came shortly before a potentially tense month, with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Nakba Day, Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, and the one year anniversary of the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem… Manelis also noted that the IDF is also preparing for violence ahead of Eurovision, which will take place in Tel Aviv in May with thousands of tourists expected to visit. Due to a fear of escalation in the south over the coming weeks, Israel’s military deployed several Iron Dome missile defense batteries across the country. [“IDF reduces Gaza fishing zone after rocket fromm PIJ“, Jerusalem Post, April 30, 2019]
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, substantially backed by Iran and considered its proxy force in the area, is the second-largest of the terrorist groups active in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip but takes care to act independently of it. Ynet says today that its leadership was “summoned” by Egyptian intelligence officials to Cairo today
in an effort to prevent a further escalation of violence between Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces in Gaza.
While they were doing that this morning, Israelis were standing still for two minutes of silence, remembering lives lost to a fathomless hatred that the PIJ and Hamas people can easily identify with.