Sirens sounded in southern Israel for the second time in eight days as rockets were fired from Gaza late Wednesday evening. At least two rockets were fired, with at least one landing in an open area in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, reported Ynet. No one was injured.
The rockets were fired from al-Shati in the northern Gaza strip, near Gaza City, in the area that was once the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.
Code Red sirens were heard ahead of the rockets in the Netivot, Ashkelon, Bnei Shimon Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council areas.
Sdot Negev Regional Council head Tamir Idan told Ynet he was in contact with the IDF, “in order to see whether we should prepare for an escalation, or this was an isolated incident.”
Each escalation must be met with force,” Idan added. “I hope this time the IDF strikes in a way the other side understands this front cannot be opened. The residents hope for vacation time this summer, and not like last year.”
MK Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid), the former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, supported this position. “The rocket fire cannot continue,” he said.
“Terror must be struck forcefully and we should not settle for bombing some sand dunes, otherwise we will face pointless wars every summer,” he continued.
Israel’s air force responded swiftly to the rocket fire. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the IDF reported, the IAF struck at least three Hamas targets in Gaza.
“The IDF views the incident gravely,” said the military in a statement. Referring to the ruling party of Gaza, the statement continued, “The Hamas terrorist organization is the address and the one on whom the responsibility falls.”
A radical Islamist Salafist group which considers Hamas too liberal has claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, posting on Twitter that it was retaliating for the death of one of its leaders this week at the hands of Hamas. The group calling itself the Omar Brigades added, “We are continuing with our jihad against the Jews, the enemies of God, and no one will be able to deter us.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday morning that the source of the rocketfire was irrelevant. “Even if last night’s shooting at Israel was by errant global jihadist groups who wish to challenge Hamas by firing at us, we consider Hamas responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip and we will not tolerate attempts to harm our citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yellin opined that the ultimate solution to the problem would be diplomatic, not military. “Operation Protective Edge ended without a diplomatic agreement – this is a strategic error which must be rectified. We must create a diplomatic mechanism including the US, the European Union and moderate Arab countries, which would set the condition that the Gaza reconstruction would not happen without the Strip first being demilitarized.”