Israel hit by 36 rockets from Gaza overnight; Ramadan riots in Jerusalem continue
On the Gaza border: "We were stuck at home because of corona, now we are stuck at home because of Hamas”
Gaza-based terrorists fired some 36 rockets into Israeli border communities in the south overnight Friday as tensions escalated throughout the country.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted six of the incoming projectiles.
Sirens woke Israeli residents in communities in the Eshkol Regional Council, Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev all the way to the large Israeli coastal city Ashkelon.
There were no Israeli injuries, but the rockets from Gaza caused material damage in some Israeli border communities.
The Israeli military responded early Saturday by striking numerous Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including underground infrastructure and rocket launchers.
The assault from Gaza on Israeli civilians constitutes the worst border escalation in months. It appears to be directly linked to the Ramadan riots in East Jerusalem, especially next to the Damascus Gate of the Old City. Radical young Muslims have rioted in Jerusalem since the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, frequently clashing with Jewish extremists.
Israeli border residents, who came under fire, shared their experiences.
“The unbearable ease with which these organizations allow themselves to shoot at the Gaza envelope and try to harm civilians is outrageous," said Gad Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council.
Yarkoni also criticized the Israeli authorities for not properly protecting Israeli border communities.
"After 20 years of rocket fire, there are still houses in the Eshkol region that do not have shelters. Last night, Israeli citizens slept under rocket fire, exposed to damage,” said Yarkoni.
Miriam Rainan, a resident of the Nahal Oz community, expressed her frustration with the situation along the Gaza border.
“It was a bad night and we slept in the bomb shelter. There was a lot of noise and one rocket fell on the kibbutz’s livestock,” she told Channel 12. “This is wrong, Iron Dome does not work properly. We were stuck at home because of the coronavirus [pandemic], and now we are stuck at home because of Hamas.”
The two Gaza-based terrorist organizations – Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades – claimed responsibility for the rocket fire against Israel. However, in accordance with its policy, the Israeli government holds the large ruling Hamas terror organization directly responsible for all violence originating from the Gaza Strip.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which belongs to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, directly linked the rocket fire to the Ramadan tensions in Jerusalem.
“We will burn the occupation’s settlements for you, O Jerusalem. The greatest has yet to come,” a spokesperson for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade declared.
While Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rocket fire, it declared itself ready to respond to what it called Israeli “aggression.”
“The Palestinian resistance is ready to respond to aggression, even the score with the occupation and prevent its violations against our people,” stated Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou.
Meanwhile, Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special envoy for the Middle East process, said on Saturday that he was “alarmed” by the escalating violence along the Gaza border and in Jerusalem.
“The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must stop immediately,” Wennesland stated.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza have fired thousands of rockets into Israel. While the large majority have been limited to adjacent Israeli communities, some Gaza rockets have reached large Israeli cities, including the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel’s commercial center, Tel Aviv, is located some 40 miles from the Gaza Strip.
In late March, Gaza-based terrorists fired a rocket toward the large Israeli city of Beersheva while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting during an election campaign.
Due to the escalation last night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi delayed his upcoming trip to the United States where he was supposed to meet top U.S. defense officials.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.