Over the last 24 hours, Israel bombed targets all over the Gaza Strip in response to missile attacks launched from Gaza by Arab residents.
Since Friday, southern Israel has been hit by nearly 130 rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza that have landed in open fields as well as the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Beer Sheva and most recently Gan Yavne and Gedera. Ninety percent of the rockets shot towards metropolitan areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery system. In response to those rockets, the IAF launched numerous air strikes against terror cells, hitting buildings and areas where terrorists are suspected of operating and building weapons. 23 people have been killed in the airstrikes, 18 of which were members of Islamic Jihad.
According to Israeli sources, the airstrikes are in response to Islamic Jihad and PFLP as well as many other groups’ refusal to abide by a ceasefire and continuously fire rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. They also suspect that Iran is behind the round of fighting and may have supplied Islamic Jihad with weapons. However, Palestinians say their rocket attacks are revenge for Israel assassinating leaders of terrorist cells. Hamas has not entered the fray of violence, fearing Israeli retaliation and a ground operation like the one three years ago that destroyed Hamas’ leadership and motivation to attack Israel.
On Friday, the IAF launched an airstrike on intelligence reports that the Popular Resistance Committees planned on attacking Israel via the Sinai Peninsula in imitation of its shooting attack on a bus in the Negev in August 2011. That airstrike killed two leaders of the PRC but led to barrages of missiles over the course of this past weekend, Sunday and Monday as well as further airstrikes by the IAF over Gaza.
Since Sunday, Israeli schools in the southern region have been closed since Sunday because of the rocket fire and are likely to remain closed until the rocket fire from Gaza ceases. Over 31 rockets were fired overnight alone.
Since Friday, Egypt and Hamas have been pressuring the group to stop firing rockets and provoking Israel into launching airstrikes. This morning, a ceasefire seemed possible until Islamic Jihad said it would not stop until “Israel ends its aggression”.