On Thursday night, warning sirens went off three times as nine rockets were fired at Israeli communities along the Gaza border from Gaza and another two were fired at Tel Aviv.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system successfully intercepted six projectiles. The IDF responded by hitting more than 100 Hamas and Islamic Jihad military targets with airstrikes.
We hit 100 Hamas military targets in Gaza in response to the rockets they fired at Israeli civilians. Among them:
• Underground rocket manufacturing site
• HQ responsible for orchestrating Hamas terrorism in Judea & Samaria
• Hamas center of unmanned aerial aircraft#StopHamas pic.twitter.com/Iy3DwpNpTU
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 15, 2019
Gaza authorities reported massive damage but remarkably, no casualties were reported. Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas ordered all its men to abandon their bases and offices in anticipation of an Israeli retaliatory attack.
This is the first time that rockets have been fired at Tel Aviv since the period leading up to the 2014 Operation Protective Edge IDF ground incursion into Gaza. It should be noted that the Israeli national elections are less than one month away.
An IDF statement placed the responsibility of the rocket fire on the Hamas terrorist group that currently rules in Gaza. The IDF issued a statement saying the “Hamas terror group carried out the rocket fire.”Hamas denied that their military forces fired the rockets.
The Islamic Jihad terrorist group has fired rockets at Israel in the past but the Israel government holds Hamas responsible for all military activities inside Gaza.
Speaking to Palestinian news agency Quds Network, Daoud Shehab, the spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, denied that his group was responsible for the rockets fired at Israel.
“These accusations are mere lies by the Israeli occupation,” Daoud Shihab said. “Our movement and its military wing the Al-Quds Brigades did not fire any rockets.”
Today it became clear for the umpteenth time Hamas is a terrorist gang that kidnapped 2 million Palestinians & oppresses them. Thousands of Gazans protested today against it.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) March 14, 2019
On Thursday, there was massive rioting inside the Strip, protesting against Hamas usurping foreign humanitarian aid money for their own use. Hamas responded with live rounds being fired into the air. Several protesters were wounded. Hamas authorities confiscated cell phones that had been used to record the events.
It is unclear how this escalation will affect the Hamas-led March of Return riots that have been waged for the past year against the security fence separating Israel from Gaza. There is usually a significant increase in activity on Friday, with several thousand Gazans arriving. Reports suggested that Islamic Jihad confirmed that the riots will not take place today.
The activities frequently include burning tires, hurling explosive devices at IDF troops, attempts to infiltrate the border, incendiary aerial devices, and occasional sniper fire targeting IDF troops.