The IDF confirmed that a rocket launched from Gaza landed in an open area in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. No air raid sirens were sounded since the Iron Dome system identified the destination as an open field area. No injuries or damages were reported. Security forces immediately arrived at the scene and began combing the area and surroundings of the impact point.
This is the fifth rocket attack launched against Israel from either Gaza or Sinai since the beginning of February. A single rocket launched from northern Gaza landed in an open field near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council just three days ago, triggering an IAF operation which destroyed five infrastructures of the terrorist organization Hamas.
No Palestinian organization has claimed responsibility for the attack of Wednesday night. There are several small Salafist groups active in Gaza which could be responsible; some of them cooperate with Daesh (ISIS) in Sinai. Recent escalation in rocket fire against Israel reflects the increasing tension between Hamas and militant Salafists opponents, which in turn successfully triggers response fire from Israel. Though Palestinian Salafist Islamism is Gaza is nothing new, growing dissatisfaction with Hamas leadership severely increased their popularity, especially in the past year.
On February 20, two rockets were fired from Sinai toward the Eshkol region surrounding the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was a result of the rocket fire. It is estimated that those who carried out the attack is the ISIS branch in Sinai. This attack comes after the organization’s news agency reported that five members of the “Islamic state” in the Sinai Peninsula were killed in drone attack by the Israeli army.
The IDF and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman both made clear following the rocket fire in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council that the Israeli security establishement was holding Hamas accountable for all security incidents against Israel originating from the Gaza Strip.
In response, Hamas officially tweeted that “any future Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip, affiliated to yesterday, will be met with resistance from Al-Qassam Brigades as time will show”, while simultaneous reports suggest Hamas arrested dozens of Salafists militants in the last few months.