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Escalation in southern Israel result of Iranian provocations

Former head of the Iranian proxy terror group PRC, Zuhair al Qaisi

Former head of the Iranian proxy terror group PRC, Zuhair al Qaisi
Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

In a recently published  article “A new intifada in the making?” Missing Peace reported  a strong increase in Palestinian terrorism since the beginning of February.

The same article revealed that Iran is directly involved in the recent provocations against Israel.

The latest of these provocations came last week. It became clear that the Iranian-sponsored terrorist movement PRC had planned to carry out another terrorist attack on Israel’s southern border.

This time however, the IDF  decided not to rely on Egyptian security forces in Sinai in order to prevent this attack.

On Friday March 9th, the IAF assassinated Zuhair Kaisi and Mahmud Haninni, both members of the terrorist movement PRC (Popular Resistance Committee) in Gaza.

According to the IDF, these two PRC members were responsible for the planning and execution of the new terrorist attack on southern Israel.

Kaisi was also among the PRC members who were responsible for a terrorist attack on Israeli civilians near Eilat last August (2011). During that attack 8 Israelis were killed and 40 others were injured.

Rockets

Shortly after the liquidation of the PRC members, Kassam and Grad rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Since then at least 200 rockets have been fired at Israel.

Most of the Grad rockets which were fired on the larger Israeli cities Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beer Sheva have been intercepted by the “Iron Dome” missile defense system. On Monday alone Iron Dome intercepted more than 22 Grad missiles. Each interception cost the state of Israel USD$21,000.

The IDF reported on Monday evening that Iron dome intercepted 85% of all incoming Grad rockets.

As a result of the ongoing rocket attacks, life in southern Israel has been severely disrupted. One million Israelis are under the threat of the Palestinian rockets. Schools are closed within 60 miles of Gaza.

So far 24 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by IAF actions.

Contrary to reports by international media, 20 of them were members of the terrorist organizations Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee, the two organizations that are responsible for the firing of the rockets.

The IDF reports that Palestinians are using human shields while launching missiles at Israel.

Four Israelis were wounded by exploding rockets, one of them seriously.

Escalation

The escalation of rocket attacks on southern Israel did not come out of the blue. By February, the PRC and Islamic Jihad had been firing rockets into Israel on a daily basis.

The attacks intensified after the signing of the Palestinian unity agreement in Doha between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Iran criticized Hamas’s leadership in Damascus for signing the agreement and encouraged the Palestinians to continue the ‘armed struggle’ (meaning terrorist attacks) against Israel.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh distanced himself publicly from the new direction of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal when he visited Tehran in February 2012.

During Haniyeh’s visit the Iranian supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei called Israel “a cancerous tumor that must and will be cut off.”

In the same speech Khamenei admitted that Iran was involved with the war in Gaza in 2008-2009

Iran

It is clear from the developments in Gaza that Hamas acquiesces to the rocket attacks by Islamic Jihad and the PRC.

Iran will continue to provoke Israel through its proxies Islamic Jihad and the PRC. After all, a new war in Gaza could serve as a red herring for the Iranian nuclear program.

Israel sees the use of Iranian mid-range Fajr missiles against  Tel Aviv as a red line. Islamic Jihad is in possession of such missiles.

However, at the moment it is highly unlikely that Israel will launch a major IDF incursion into Gaza like it did in 2008.

Both Israel and Hamas have a clear interest in avoiding war at this point in time, albeit for different reasons.

Israel wants to concentrate on disrupting the Iranian nuclear program and Hamas feels it is not ready yet for a new major confrontation with Israel.

Indeed, the latest developments show that Hamas, with the help of the Egyptians, succeeded in restoring calm to a certain degree.

Monday night only three rockets were fired from the Gaza strip, but the situation remains tense.

Below is a break down of the Palestinians killed in the current round of fighting. At least 20 of them were terrorists

Popular Resistance Committees:

  1. Ahmed Hanani
  2. Zuhir al-Qaisi
  3. Mahdi Abu Shawish
  4. Mansour Kamal Abu Nuseira
  5. Hussein Barham Al-Breim
  6. Ahmad Deeb Salem

Islamic Jihad:

  1. Fayiq Saad
  2. Muatasim Hajjaj
  3. Ahmad Hajjaj
  4. Shadi Sayqali
  5. Ubeid Gharabli
  6. Muhammad Maghari
  7. Hazim Qureiqi
  8. Muhammad al-Ghamry
  9. Muhammad Hararah
  10. Mahmoud Najim
  11. Raafat Abu Eid
  12. Hamadah Salman Abu Mutlaq
  13. Muhammad Thaher
  14. Bassam al-Ajla

Civilians

  1. Ayoub Useila
  2. Adel al-Issi
  3. Mohammad Hassoni
  4. Fayza Hassoni

 

Hassoni’s appear to have been used as human shields, which is also likely the case with Adel al-Issi.

About the Author: Missing Peace is an initiative of ex-members from the Israel Facts Monitor group in Israel, a group mainly consisting of Dutch immigrants; members of WAAR (a Dutch monitor organization) and Israeli Middle East- and media experts. Missing Peace aims to improve the supply of reliable information and to influence opinions about the Middle East in Europe.


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