Gaza terrorists have fired some 30 rockets and mortars at Israel in response to the unilateral cease fire initiated by the Jerusalem government Tuesday morning.
An initial barrage of 10 rockets and missiles was fired at southern Israel late Tuesday morning, underlining the group’s rejection of a cease fire proposal advanced by Egypt and begun by Israel at 9am. Grad missiles exploded shortly after 11:30 am in the port city of Ashdod, re-traumatizing residents and destroying more property.
One house sustained a direct hit in Ashdod, but miraculously no one was physically injured. Several residents were treated for shock, however, according to police. Four other missiles were intercepted directly over the city by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, indicating they were all heading for populated areas. Shorter-range rockets also landed in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council district. Both were proof Hamas intended to make good on its word to reject the cease fire proposal advanced by Egypt.
A few minutes later, two rockets were intercepted over the town of Netivot, and an IDF soldier sustained shrapnel wounds in a rocket attack on the town of Sderot. The attack was the third since Israel’s security cabinet had announced its decision to unilaterally stop firing – although, the IDF warned, defensive action would still be taken and offensive responses would be considered as the situation warranted.
By midday, Hamas had fired barrages aimed at Haifa, Hadera, Ness Tziona, Ashdod, Yavneh, Rehovot and Ashkelon, among numerous other targets. Two missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system above central Israel a few minutes before 2 pm.
Gaza’s Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told international reporters Tuesday morning, “The responses of resistance will continue until the demands of our people are achieved. Any unilateral Israeli cessation has no value in the light of the large crimes and the disastrous humanitarian situation.”
Among other points, the proposal, accepted unilaterally by Israel’s security cabinet in a 6-2 vote Tuesday morning, called for border crossings (from Israel) to Gaza to “be opened,” with the movement of people and goods to be “facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.”
One hour after Israel announced it had accepted Egypt’s proposed cease fire with Gaza, Hamas terrorists responded with a terse statement. “Don’t speak to us about a “calm” or ‘ceasefire.’ Our rockets will continue to land in your territory,” Gaza’s ruling faction promised.
The terrorist group punctuated its response with rocket fire aimed at a group of communities in the Eshkol Regional Council district. Two rockets landed in open areas.
About half an hour later, a Color Red incoming rocket alert sent members of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom racing for their shelters as well. In that area, Israelis have only 15 seconds to reach a safe space before a rocket explodes in their midst.
According to the terms of the proposal accepted by Israel, firing was to cease at 9 am. Between 9am and 12 noon, however, 22 rockets and missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza.
IDF Spokesman Lt.Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement sent to media at 10:50 am, “In accordance with the government directives, the IDF now holds fire. We remain alert and preserve high preparedness levels, both defensive and offensive. If the Hamas terror organization will fire at Israel, we shall respond.”
The vote by the security cabinet – which was not unanimous – also approved “forceful action” if Hamas violated the agreement, which it did within the hour. But it is not clear what, if anything, Israel will do, nor did officials give any indication what the term “forceful action” might mean.
Although Israeli officials tried to paint the cease fire acceptance as a victory, civilians calling in to radio programs Tuesday morning were anything but satisfied. Most expressed disappointment and outrage that Israel was backing away without first eliminating the rocket fire from Gaza as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had promised to do at the outset of launching Operation Protective Edge. “The goals of the operation were to restore quiet for a long period of time and that goal has been achieved,” said a diplomatic source immediately following the cabinet meeting.
However, that is not true and quiet has not, in fact, been achieved at all – as was proved one scant hour after the cabinet vote.
The one advantage Israelis have gained is the certain knowledge – previously unrevealed – about the expansion and sophistication of the Hamas arsenal and military force, and the fact there is no longer anywhere in the country safe from Gaza missile fire. We are no longer facing a group of primitive terrorists in Gaza; we now face a full-fledged Hamas military force, similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon, plus ISIS. That issue must be dealt with and the sooner, the better.